This week's topic: Why should San Diego residents vote for or against Prop D -- the city's half-cent retail-tax ballot measure -- at the polls on Tuesday? -- Ed.
Friberg's Punch: If San Diegans want to avoid seeing less firefighters, libraries and lifeguards, they must pass Proposition D. The city has an ongoing budget deficit of $72 million. Since pension cuts generally don’t generate savings for at least five years, plugging a $72 million hole next year without more revenue means less services. Proposition D raises the sales tax temporarily (it can only last more than five years if passed by the voters at a future point), but only after the council enacts pension reform. Further, the council and mayor have promised to generate more than $70 million in savings on an annual basis if Proposition D passes.
Lastly, Proposition D has bipartisan support. The Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Jerry Sanders and the Union-Tribune have joined council Democrats to advocate its passage. Business leaders know that a city with less firefighters and cops is unsafe and bad for economic growth.
Lund's Punch: On the whole I believe that San Diegans will reject this tax measure. Proposition D was placed on the ballot because its proponents believe that it is the only way to save vital services in San Diego. They say that if we don't have this tax increase, our police, fire and other city services will suffer. They also say that if the tax increase is made, reforms will be undertaken to make our situation better.
In reality, this is another case of someone with an alcohol addiction asking for one last drink to ease the pain. The people of San Diego rejected a plea from the state of California to raise their taxes, and they will do the same here in San Diego. They understand that it is more important to have government fix its own mess rather than to punt it to the voters through a tax increase.
Friberg's Counterpunch: The City Council has already cut more than $150 million in the last three years from pension obligations. They’ve been committed to reform and will continue to make necessary changes. The fact is that the city is in a $72 million hole for 2011, and pension cuts take too long to come into effect to make up the balance. San Diegans must pass this temporary sales tax if they want to retain vital city services.
Lund's Counterpunch: I don’t believe for one second that the city of San Diego is operating at fiscal capacity. Meaning, that if we don’t pass a tax increase the city will collapse. Yes there will be choices that will have to be made if Proposition D does not pass, but through managed competition and proper budgeting, we will get back to fiscal solvency.
Temporary tax increases do not exist, and the people of San Diego know that.
Aaron Friberg, the president of the San Diego County Young Democrats, graduated UCLA Law in May 2009 and will begin as an associate attorney of Latham & Watkins LLP in the fall
Andrew Lund is the president of the San Diego Young Republicans