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Voters can tax tech companies to fight homelessness

  Image text: A man spends on a sidewalks in downtown San Francisco, California on Tu ...

After years of economic boom driven by rapid technological growth, the voters in the San Francisco Bay Area in November selected major companies shall be taxed to pay for problems that have only become worse as the business has flourished: housing and transport.

Campaigns are a recognition of the burden that rapid job growth has imposed public transport and housing affordability in many cities.

Corporate groups opposed to tax projects argue that the measures will give companies a reason to expand elsewhere, or worse, leave the region entirely.

Earlier tax proposals in cities such as Seattle have been met by opposition from large companies, but in the Bay Area, some major technology companies have taken tax evasion.

These sup carriers say that corporate philanthropy has been insufficient to address Bay Area issues like homeless and transport. They argue that a stable funding flow must be created to pay for services.

"It's definitely an inspiration to take advantage of the enormous prosperity we have in the region while we have it," said Molly Turner, a lecturer at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

The debate has touched a nerve in San Francisco, where the proposed tax road has triggered a collision of tech titans, split political allies and led the city's new mayor to make the most controversial decision about her

Proposition C would double the city's homeless budget by increasing gross receipts tax on annual business income over $ 50 million.

The average half-rate increase in taxes would increase about $ 300 million annually to help homeless San Franciscans out of the street. Half of the money would go against long-term corrections, like supporting housing, while the other half would go for more immediate help, such as shelter, mental health and rental assistance.

"We have just received this massive tax move from [President] Trump. Corporate interest rates went from 35 percent down to 21[ads1] percent," said Jennifer Friedenbach, CEO of the Homelessness Coalition, who sponsored the measure. "To solve the systemic crises we need continuous income. "

San Francisco's Homeless Crisis

With thousands of people sleeping on the street every night, most San Franciscans would be quick to mention homelessness as a top problem facing the city Less clear is what voters are willing to do to solve the problem.

The last two ballot papers measure suggesting tax increases to raise money for services for the homeless, both failed. One was an increase of 2016 sales tax and the other a property tax on the ballot paper last June. Proposition C is different because it would acquire all the income it increases to homeless programs mmer.

"What we have seen in the past is tinkering, and I do not think the voters have much patience for it," said Friedenbach. "They want to see big change."

It is estimated that 300 to 400 companies will pay the Proposition C tax rate. These companies already pay 57 percent of business taxes collected by San Francisco, according to a report from the Office of Economic Analysis.

Jim Lazarus, Senior Executive Director of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said a new tax hike would be a heavy burden on top of the increased costs required to recruit and retain workers in the region.

"Straw breaks the camel's back and some finance director says," When the rent comes up, we leave the city, "he said.

Similar warnings from the Amazon press Seattles city council to leave Technical Titan disagrees

But San Francisco's largest private employer, Salesforce, has taken a distinctly different approach to Proposition C. Cloud computing giant has donated $ 4.7 million to the Yes on C campaign, with another $ 1 million coming from CEO Marc Benioff. This despite Benioff's claim that the company will pay millions more under the tax proposal.

To Benioff, the debate on Proposition C is black and white and CEOs who are not for the measure are not socially responsible.

" What I've found is that there are two types of people in San Francisco, "he said in an interview." There are people who are willing to give and always open their hearts and their wallets to support the community tree beds. And there are those who will not give anything whatever. "

Benioff may have referred to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, with whom Benioff acted jabs with over Proposition C. Dorsey claimed that his company Square will be damaged more of the tax increase than Salesforce.

Last year, Lyft and Macys came to Square to donate to the No on Prop. C campaign. It did not make much of a pillow. Thanks to Benioff, the "yes" page has raked in four times as much in contributions, according to data from the San Francisco Department of Elections.

A new mayor with own plans

position on proposition C has also caused a split with a political alliance : San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Benioff said that the need for sustained homeless funding is best illustrated by a recent talk from his mayor. Breed was looking for a $ 8 million donation to obtain a site that could be used to a reasonable ball iger.

"She's out of money. Her budget was fully maxed, "Benioff said." The city has these shovel projects ready to go, and we can directly address these homeless people if we have more targeted funding. "

Breed disagrees with not only the nature of the conversation. said she asked Benioff for the immediate donation because a budget supporter would have taken too long to secure the units. She also disagrees with the idea that San Francisco can get tax on homeless services without consequences for the overall economy of the city.

"Can big companies pay more to support this? Yes, they can, "said Breed.

" But things like a ballot paper must be handled more responsibly, "she added." Make sure when we try and tax that there are no unintended consequences of loss of work for medium-sized residents. I mean manufacturing, retail, there are things that are important to San Francisco. "

" I want to make sure I'm held responsible for the decisions I make, "she said." Not the decisions that other people make . "

There is a chance that the heated debate on Proposition C could actually extend beyond November. Supporters hope that a recent Supreme Court judgment in the present case will allow the Citizens' Initiative to consist of majority voting. Historically, local measures required leadership to a particular source, such as homeless services, a vote of two thirds. There are challenges for the application of the Supreme Court's decision, and a majority vote in favor of Proposition C may be part of these challenges.

Mountain View and East Palo Alto Measures

Taxes in Mountain View and East Palo Alto have come with significantly fewer political fireworks but also reflect a ski fte against demanding greater social responsibility to address the Bay Area's worrying housing and transport problems.

Measures HH in East Palo Alto would tax large commercial office space at a price of $ 2.50 per square meter to pay for affordable housing.

Trailers hope to capitalize on the latest growth of Amazon in the city, and Facebook's expansion in nearby Menlo Park.

"We are only trying to protect our society and have a good share that will improve the lives of more people," says Mayor Ruben Abrica. "We also try to be proactive because we know that another development should take place." [19659003] Mountain Views tax is more heavily aimed at a single company: Google.

The proposed "main tax" in Measure P would be tax companies for each employee, with larger companies paying higher prices. Income from tax will go to the general fund, with the promise that it will be used for transportation.

The tax is expected to increase $ 6 million annually, with over half coming from Google.

Google is not resistant The tax increases and Mountain View mayor Lenny Siegel said that the search giant has Be quick to help with problems like homelessness in the past.

"They are a good business citizen, but we can not bind their donations," he said. "So the treasure will allow us to tie so we can build the infrastructure that allows Google employees to come from Caltrain to Googleplex. "

Previously, tax breaks were used to attract businesses [19659003] The demand for more investment from large companies, and especially the region's thriving technology companies, is a reversal from the political talks that took place in Bay Area cities in the early decade.

San Francisco changed its tax code to attract and retain businesses, with special incentives for growing technology companies.

Many affiliates of the Bay Area business areas claim that the thriving companies did not revert to the friendly guidelines.

"I do not see technology very civilian involved, and I think they must be," said Dianne Feinstein, who has said that she supports Proposition C.

"Like when I was the mayor, the CEOs of the big The banks – I could go in and ask them to help with all the citizens. Cross my heart. I've never got a "no". Bank of America, Wells [Fargo] all said "yes". "

So, instead of asking for philanthropy, tax measures have the purpose of forcing Bay Area companies to add larger amounts of skin to the fight against local problems.

The question is still about a pressure that Proposition C has come for late, and is simply setting the scene for a volatile victory.

"It's definitely a risk if we trust this one treasure to fund a large portion of our homeless services," said Molly Turner from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. "If we have a correction or a downturn in the near future, it will significantly cut our ability to finance these programs."

Copyright 2018 KQED. To see more, visit KQED.

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