Average is not good enough in today’s economy

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has shown some encouraging progress in addressing jobs and the economy this year. On Monday, the Chamber released a Mid-Year Paychecks & Pink Slips Scorecard revealing the performance of each Supervisor on his or her voting record on the top 10 legislative actions impacting jobs, economic growth and government efficiency from January 1 to June 11, 2010.

According to the new scorecard, the majority of Supervisors improved their scores by voting for job-boosting measures such as the Masonic Auditorium renovation, a development fee collection deferral, small business contract reform and other issues. Supervisors Carmen Chu, Sean Elsbernd and Bevan Dufty maintained the highest scores of over 90 percent. Six other Supervisors improved their scores by 10 to nearly 40 percent since the Chamber’s first report, examining the top issues in 2009. Even the score of top “pink slip” maker Supervisor Chris Daily increased from 13 to 50 percent.

While the Chamber is pleased that our Supervisors are giving more support to job and economic issues than they did last year, scores of 50 and 60 percent are not acceptable in our current climate. Despite these improved rankings, now is not the time to let up on jobs or economic development. California faces a $20 billion budget deficit. The city is struggling to bridge a half-a-billion budget gap. More than 50,000 San Franciscans are still out of work

Unfortunately, there are already signs that the focus on jobs will again diminish. Within the last two weeks, three new tax measures have been introduced for consideration on the November General Election Ballot. Supervisor Chiu proposed a progressive payroll tax and a commercial rent tax. Supervisor Avalos introduced a real estate transfer tax on the sale of properties valued over $2.5 million. Supervisor Mirkarimi sponsored legislation increasing the off-street parking tax from 25 to 35 percent. These taxes come on top of the hotel tax that is already being circulated by the Labor Council and several other revenue-generating proposals being discussed by city agencies. San Francisco is already one of the most expensive places in the nation to do business. We simply can not afford to add more burdens on business if we want to keep jobs.

It is also clear that the city is not sincere in its efforts to reduce government spending. Mayor Gavin Newsom’s $6.48 billion proposed budget for fiscal year 2010-2011, contains a 24 percent increase of over $68 million in retirement costs alone. If this budget sticks, San Franciscans will continue to sacrifice important city services to provide generous pensions for public employees. The passage of Measure C (Pension Cost Reform measure) in the Primary Election is a step in the right direction, but we must do more to address the skyrocketing pension costs that are threatening the fiscal solvency of our city.

As the budget battle plays out at City Hall and we move towards the November General Election, the Chamber urges our Supervisors to stay focused on efforts to create jobs, grow our economy and improve the efficiency of government. Increasing taxes during a recession will hurt everyone – it’s time for City Hall to live within its means, just like residents and businesses have been forced to do. We will continue to keep our members updated on the numerous tax proposals being discussed, and the actions of our elected officials in creating paychecks and pink slips in San Francisco.