Tightening the Belt Across California

Times,
like patterns, ebb and flow predictably with time. There is still hope
that the economic crisis of 2008-2009 will not be nearly as bad as the
Great Depression, despite the widespread failure of banks. And various
cities across California are dealing with the situation as they best
see fit, with belt tightening and spending, hoping to receive greater
returns.

In San Francisco, old ideas
and new are being mixed together to provide a hoped-for local stimulating
effect. A “jobs payroll tax credit” is being floated, as the Mayor’s
Office notes that “businesses that add jobs over the next two years
will not have to pay the city’s 1.5 percent payroll tax on those new
positions,” which is hoped to spur both employment and to encourage
businesses to flourish in the city by the Bay. SF faces its own local
budget shortfall, to the tune of $126.9 million. Further tax credit
programs for families and businesses are set to be implemented, along
with programs to give tax relief to companies participating in community
programs and events.

There is even talk of a program to help teach “financial
literacy” through the “Bank on San Francisco” program. Tax credits/relief
and teaching responsible use of finances: these are certainly not new
ideas, but they are good ones.

Last week, Major Newsom announced his own “stimulus proposal” that focused on “expediting infrastructure projects and granting loans and tax credits to local businesses.” The city will have a government program that will make loans to small businesses, and
there is a planned rebate of 50 percent “of the property tax that businesses
pay for unsecured property” so long as said goods were purchased in
San Francisco.

Kevin Johnson, the mayor of
Sacramento, even publicly mulled over the idea of freezing his salary
and the salaries of his staff. Even Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los
Angeles recently announced the availability of government programs to
help jobseekers, in tandem with the community centers available for
mental health support in this time of economic pain. Mayor Jerry Sanders
of San Diego is asking residents to interact with the state government
to suggest what should be included in the upcoming budget.

Like many
of its sister cities throughout California and the nation, San Diego
also faces a budget deficit, specifically of over $50 million (a sum
which dwarfs in comparison to cities like San Francisco, which face
budget shortfalls in excess of $100 million). In a press release, Mayor
Sanders explained that “Like most American cities, San Diego has been
hurt by the national recession and needs to make difficult decisions
to balance its budget.” The mayor also expressed his “great appreciation
for the common sense of San Diegans,” and encouraged residents to
share ideas on reductions, streamlining and increasing revenues.

A big heaping dose of common
sense is exactly what our politicians need. May San Diego lead the way
in its straightforward path back to functionality and prosperity.