get rid of parking tickets, create an income tax, and force city workers to pay for pensions

cmw's picture

I think I can solve the city's budget gap with 3 fair solutions. 

1.  Significantly reduce parking tickets.  Using parking tickets to finance the city violates the U.S. constitution.  It's taxation without representation, this is the reason we fought a war for our independence with Great Britian.  It's high time San Francisco started abiding by the laws of our country.  Not only is using parking tickets unconstitutional, it is a regressive tax that taxes people who don't have a parking garage or parking space or can't afford to pay for it at home or at work.  In other words, it taxes the people who are least able to pay for it.  Shame on San Francisco. 

2.  Instead of parking tickets have an income tax like so many other cities in the United States.  If San Francisco wants to have great liberal programs for whatever cause it wants to support that's fine but the city should have to ask the taxpayers to pay for it.  The tax payers, i.e. the people who have to pay for the government, should be the people who decide what gets paid for and how much we will pay for it. 

3.  Require city employees to contribute to their pensions.  There is a reason why most companies in the U.S. did away with defined benefit pension plans.  Quite frankly, it's a joke to assume that any business will be an ongoing concern (will still be in business) 40 to 65 years into the future and to assume that they can predict and fund guaranteed benefits for all of it's employees.  Having worked in audit, I can tell you, pension plans are the biggest and easiest way for an organization to cook its books.  It's also rather difficult for an auditor to site problems with pensions, they are based on assumptions that no one can say are unfounded even if they are unlikely or outside the norm.  Very few people today work for companies that provide pensions, heck lots of fortune 500 companies don't even pay 401Ks anymore.  Why do city employees of San Francisco have among the most generous benefits of any public or private employees in the country?  What exactly is it that they do that deserves such fabulous benefits?  Why can't we simply expect their pay to be in line with the rest of us?  


Really people, this is not rocket science!

DaveG's picture

Critique of your plan, Phil

First, not all taxes have the same effect. And not all income is derived from the same general categories. Taxing earned income is demoralizing and counter-productive; it discourages being productive. Taxing unearned income does not discourage being productive, in fact it is positively good because it shunts human energy back into the earned income side of activity.

An income tax which doesn't distinguish between earned and unearned income will tend to be regressive because those with lower incomes tend to have a higher proportion of income derived from actual work, while higher incomes tend to include a good deal of unearned income. Still, whether incomes are high or low, why tax work? Instead tax economic rent.

Close the loophole is the right general idea: collect more of the economic rent resident in land values in commercial real estate.


As for parking ticket revenue, I see the public streets as just that, public. Those parking (housing outside) their cars on public land should pay for that opportunity. A user fee roughly equivalent to the market rent of the land used for parking seems fair to me. Why give this land away. On the other hand, using parking tickets as an above market site value weapon strikes me as simply mean-spirited and hurtful to lower income folk. In short, folks should pay for the land they use, but not pay disproportionate penalties. I recently was cited for coasting through a stop sign: I did it and that's a fact; but a $234 fine? That's disproportionate (and we all know it's a tad hypocritical when one sees Police on cell phones while driving and themselves cruising through intersections) to the infraction.


Lumping pensions in with parking tickets and a city income tax is a stretch, except in the sense of linking the need for income-generating antics (exorbitant parking tickets) with the need for paying exorbitant pensions. But you rather compromise that link by advocating for a tax on work (a city income tax).


By all means let's pinch the gusher of pension largesse to the public employees, but let's not accommodate that gusher indirectly with a tax on work.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137