Set-asides skew our tax priorities

amiee's picture

So much of our tax dollars are already in a straight-jacket.  Set asides for special causes feel good, so we pass them, BUT, less money is left over for everything else we need - libraries, parks, police.  As our budget priorities change, we can't reallocate spending for our City's biggest priorities because of the set-asides that force us to spend money one way, even when it could be better used somewhere else.  How do we fix this problem to make sure that our tax dollars work for us?

bobbyh's picture

Ballot box budgeting

The problem is that our local elected officials keep going to the voters with these set asides!  Everyone loves libraries, everyone loves kids, and everyone loves baby kittens--and our elected know this--so they go to the voters with these ballot props that lock us into these certain funding schemes that serve their own political interests.  It is a cheap political trick, because if you ask someone if they want to save the kittens, they will say yes....if you ask them if they want to save our libraries, they say yes....but after five or six of these asked on an individual basis, you find yourself in a position where you can't fund them all at those levels.  If our local politicians did their jobs and worked out the budget given the realities of the current fiscal and economic climate, we would have a budget that is flexible and can be shifted without these set asides locking us in. 

San Francisco should immediately sunset ALL set asides in our budget.  That doesn't mean funding for all those things will dry up, they will all just be funded according to what is the most pressing priorities in the current climate.  The politicians need to hammer this stuff out because that's why we elected them, and its their job! And as a voter, you should vote against all set asides, even if you have warm fuzzy feelings about the particular issue--its bad public policy.

rtumblesf's picture

Heres the problem

Agree - we need to get rid of the set aside. But if we get rid of the set asides without getting rid of all the politicians who cave to the special interests (most of them) then what will happen is libraries and police will be cut so that perks and special interests will be protected.

bobbyh's picture


I think the first step is to get rid of the set-asides, then, when the politicians are forced to make funding priority choices, we will get a clear look at who is beholden to the special interests.  Those that side with perks and not our parks and safety should all be targeted to be thrown out of office.  San Franciscans really need a tool (website?) that give us the ability to judge our elected officials on their records and alliances.  The budget process is so complicated and the myriad of political deals and interests are so vast (and skillful) in this town, that unless you are following this stuff by the minute, you really can't know what is really going on.  We need facts like voting records, top donors, recent and past political priorities, etc. Maybe even listing a few top issues/priorities in the City (parks, public safety, libraries, etc) and a grade for each Supervisor as to how much they have supported or not supported these things against other interests.  Voters here in San Francisco really could use more resources to get past all the politics.

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