Vallejo, California voters defeated Measure B the one percent tax increase the council proposed to raise tax revenue for public safety, street repairs and other budget items. However, they approved the Measure C ten percent tax on medical marijuana sales to produce revenue for the same purposes. On the one hand, voters appeared wise to defeat Measure B that lacked protections preventing city council from creating long-term obligations based on a temporary tax revenue source. On the other hand, they appear selfish by approving Measure C with goals to shift the tax revenue burden to people with serious illness or buyers of illegal drugs.
Vallejo voters passed Measure C by an overwhelming margin. They split almost evenly in an unofficial report on Measure B. However, voting on both measures confirm most Americans' inclination unfairly to shift the burden of financing government to disfavored groups, less educated groups and less politically sophisticated groups. Too many Americans believe wrongly that they can escape costs and responsibilities of government or shift them to others without serious consequences for them or for society. They are wrong.
No doubt, the city needs more money income to pay for street repairs and hire more public safety officers. However, city officials have moral and legal duty to have a revenue source to pay wages and retirement benefits for newly hired employees. A ten-year temporary tax does not meet this need. Hiring more employees based on the temporary tax creates the potential for the city to create obligations to pay wage and retirement costs long after it expires.
By approving the medical marijuana tax for city income, Vallejo voters created hidden fiscal, legal and moral uncertainties. Clearly, the near 70 percent majority willing to tax the medicine of their seriously ill neighbors is morally distasteful. Additionally, the group of authorized medical marijuana is not large enough to produce taxes revenue sufficient to support much street and building repair, or employee salaries and retirement costs. Subtract the medical marijuana users that grow their personal supply and those that switch to the untaxed street market and the medical marijuana customer base for taxed businesses drops even lower. The California Compassionate Act does not provide for medical marijuana sold as business product. It does not exempt those businesses from criminal laws against marijuana sales. Therefore, by passing Measure B voters tacitly approved taxing unlawful marijuana sales for city income. Some voters openly admitted they approved the tax believing most medical marijuana dispensary customers are unlawful users of the product.
The marijuana business tax ordinance effectively creates a legalized protection racket with police officers the enforcers. The ten percent business tax on gross sales is the city's cut of the action. Pay it and the city will overlook your illegal sales. The ordinance places law enforcement officers in the conflicting position that invites corruption. They can enforce the law uniformly against all sales. Or, they can ignore sales that produce money for the city it needs to help pay their wages and retirement fund contributions.
The reality is that law enforcement officers will enforce city ordinances created by the council and approved by voters. Doing so will create a mockery of law as they drive by licensed medical marijuana business with an arrested marijuana street dealer in the backseat of the police cruiser. Nevertheless, I support law enforcement's strict enforcement against illegal drug sales on our streets and in our neighborhoods although I disagree with laws that ban marijuana use. This unlawful activity in a neighborhood destroys the quality of living for the residents by actors and their disruptive conduct it attracts there. The people must end marijuana prohibition and government's intrusion into their personal domain. However, this is not likely to happen now the majority found a way to shift cost of government to other groups and local government officials believe they created a way to profit from illegal marijuana sales.
City of Vallejo council placed two tax proposals on the November 2011 ballot with the same supporting arguments they will create revenue for public safety, libraries, youth programs, and improve streets. Measure B is a one-percent sales tax proposal. Measure C is a Marijuana Business License Tax. Voters should reject both proposed ordinances. They are counterproductive for stated goals and they are immoral.
Measure B would increase Vallejo's sales tax rate from 7.375% to 8.375% making it a higher than other Solano County cities and neighboring Napa County cities. Vallejo already suffers lower tax revenue from inadequate sales and business tax revenue. This higher sales tax is likely to have an adverse effect on sales and tax revenue.
The sales tax method for financing government is unfair. It is a sliding scale tax assessment that progressively charges people a higher percent of their income the smaller income they earn. For example, three people receive weekly paychecks of $400, $800 and $1600 and each of them buy a $100.00 drill. All three will pay the 8.375% sales tax or $8.38. However, this tax is 2.10% of the $400 income, 1.05% of the $800 income and only 0.52% of the $1600 income. Therefore, the person with the lowest income pays the higher percentage of his or her income, here as much as four times greater, to support of government than people earning higher incomes do. Clearly, fair-minded people can see the immorality of this type taxing and Vallejo should not add to the immorality. All sales taxes are unfair
I understand that Vallejo needs more tax revenue to meet increasingly higher labor costs. However, each time Vallejo, any California city, increases taxes to pay government employees higher salaries it adds to the tax burden future taxpayers must pay for those workers' retirement and medical benefits. Voters must understand that Vallejo residents assume retirement costs for new public safety employees hired from this proposed one percent sales tax. Those retirement costs will continue long after this tax expires in ten years. The same is true for government or private grants that allow the city to add firefighters or police officers. The city continues retirement costs obligations long after the grants expire. Therefore, residents must be aware of the financial trap they create for themselves by approving a temporary sales tax to hire new public safety employees at high salaries. The accompanying long-term retirement costs for those employees guarantees Vallejo's future financial collapse.
People and businesses will leave California and Vallejo rather than enslave themselves to government employees' high salaries and retirement benefits. Vallejo will have to decertify as a city to protect residents' equity in their homes. Other cities and the state will follow unless California changes the collective bargaining process that drives government workers' compensation to high levels that force residents to forgo satisfactory city services to pay labor and retirement costs.
Approving Measure B will only worsen the city's financial situation. Many Vallejo residents and employee unions will see this new pool of tax revenue as a basis to pressure the city to hire more public safety officers. Unions will be less likely to agree to wage cuts suitable for Vallejo, California and the nation's economic crisis. Council members already showed fiscal shortsightedness by the generous employee contracts they approved without tax revenue to support them. It would be fiscally irresponsible for Vallejo to hire new employees based on a temporary tax as supporters assert is the purpose for passing Measure C. Instead, City council members must adjust operating costs to meet current tax revenue conditions and fill needed public safety positions as permanent long-term revenue sources develop.
Measure C is an ordinance without a purpose. Supposedly, it mandates a business license taxes for sales of medical marijuana sales. However, the title is Marijuana Business License Tax ordinance. I could not find a medical marijuana reference in the ordinance. Federal law forbids all marijuana uses and California only decriminalized prescription medical marijuana use. Like the federal government, Measure C makes no distinction between sales of recreational marijuana and medical marijuana. Therefore, it cannot legally issue a Marijuana Business License to someone to collect the tax under federal or state law. I don't understand city council members' justification for wasting money to draft and place on the ballot an ordinance with no purpose. It only permits them to prosecute someone for selling marijuana or open a business without a business license which they can do now.