SPUR Announces November Ballot Positions

By Corey Marshall, Good Government Policy Director
August 22, 2011
Image courtesy Flickr user brotherM

The ballot for the upcoming November 2011 election has finally been set. After five measures dropped off, we’ve ended up with the shortest ballot in a mayoral election in at least 50 years.

The remaining measures address some important financial topics in a difficult economy, when voters may not be in the mood to talk about money. Pension reform, bonds to pay for schools and roads, and even a sales tax increase — all on the same ballot. Times are still tough for local government, and that the city is taking on some difficult issues in spite of the state of the economy. For example, there is wide agreement that the city’s pension system requires attention; unfunded retiree healthcare liabilities totaling $4.3 billion need a payment plan; the school district needs bond funding to complete its 10-year capital renovation program; and the city’s roads desperately require investment.

To a certain extent, many of these measures rely on something much more basic: trust that voters will see the wisdom of investing in their city in spite of high rates of unemployment, continuing volatility in the stock market and severe financial challenges at the state and federal levels.

After hearing an in-depth report from our Ballot Analysis Committee, SPUR’s board of directors voted to take the following positions regarding the eight propositions on the San Francisco ballot this November:

Proposition A: 2011 SFUSD General Obligation Bond ($531 million)
General Obligation bond measure of $531 million to finance repairs, renovations and new construction of San Francisco Unified School District structures.
SPUR position: YES

Proposition B: 2011 Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond
$248 million bond to rebuild deteriorating city streets.
SPUR position: YES

Proposition C: City Retirement and Healthcare Benefits
Charter Amendment that would increase employee pension contributions, increase retirement ages, require employee contributions to the Retiree Health Care Trust Fund and change the composition of the Health Services System Board.
SPUR position: YES

Proposition D: Retirement Benefits for City Employees
Charter Amendment that would reform the funding of city employee pension and retiree healthcare through increased pension contributions, increased retirement ages and limiting the annual pension for new employees.
SPUR position: NO

Proposition E: Allowing Amendments to and Repeal of Initiatives
Ordinance that would allow voter-adopted initiative ordinances and declarations of policy originating with the mayor or Board of Supervisors to be amended or repealed by the Board of Supervisors, with certain conditions.
SPUR position: YES

Proposition F: Modifying Registration and Disclosure Requirements for Campaign Consultants
Modifies current San Francisco campaign consultant regulations to require consultants to submit campaign consultant filings monthly instead of quarterly, and complete a training course. Exempts some consultants from filing if they receive less than $5,000 per year in consulting fees, and increases other fees.
SPUR position: YES

Proposition G: 0.5 percent Sales Tax Increase to Fund Public Safety, Services to Children and Seniors
Ordinance that would temporarily increase the sales tax rate in San Francisco from its current rate of 8.5 percent to 9 percent, but would be repealed for five years if the state restores recently expired sales taxes. The revenue is intended to fund public safety and social programs in the face of reductions in state funding.
SPUR position: NO

Proposition H: Student Assignment System
Advisory measure declaring policy that every family in every San Francisco neighborhood should have the opportunity to send their children to a quality school in their neighborhood, and the system for assigning children to schools should give the highest priority to the proximity of a child’s home to the school.
SPUR position: NO POSITION

Stay tuned for our in-depth analysis of these measures at spur.org/voterguide as Election Day approaches.

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