Santa Clara County has been whipsawed by the economic downturn and the state's perennial budget crises. When funding runs short for state-supported safety-net programs that serve low-income residents, legislators pass the problem down to county governments, who at the same time are overburdened by more residents who need services just to survive. It is a vicious cycle and while the county has shed almost 1,800 employees and slashed its budget by more than $2 billion, visits to the Valley Medical Center in San Jose rose more than 200,000 in the last 10 years, and people looking for housing assistance tripled.
The county is doing all it can to meet demand, but it has run out of options. We agree with supporters of Measure A who say that the answer is for voters to approve a one-eighth-cent sales-tax increase that would last for 10 years and provide $50 million a year to help the county come closer to breaking even. The increase would bring the county's sales-tax levy to 8.5 percent, of which 7.25 percent goes to the state.
If passed, the tax would give the county a way to replace some of the dollars lost to cuts by the state and federal governments for health and public-safety programs. One in four county residents use services offered by the Valley Medical Center, including care in the burn and trauma centers. And thousands of low-income children in the Healthy Kids Program will continue to be covered by health insurance if the measure passes.
All county residents need to pitch in and help keep these essential services afloat. We urge a Yes vote on Measure A.
Yes on Measure B
In most years voters wouldn't blink at approving a request to simply continue a parcel tax that costs homeowners now just over $50 a year. But getting the required two-thirds voter support for Measure B that will benefit the Santa Clara Valley Water District could be a challenge, in part due to the district board's record of overpaying directors and senior staff. With a new CEO, reforms are underway and a board majority is pushing for more changes.
The proposed uses for Measure B funds show good judgment, and when the designated projects are completed will help make sure our water supply and the health of our creeks are in good shape. And various flood-control projects, including improvements along San Francisquito Creek around the Chaucer Street bridge in Palo Alto, would be in line for funding as well.
By assuring a steady source of parcel-tax income beyond 2016, the district will continue eligibility for federal dollars that could be lost if a vote was delayed until 2014. The original measure was passed in 2000. One of the major projects on the urgent to-do list is seismic work on the Anderson Dam, part of the county's largest reservoir. It is paramount that this work be completed soon, as it is vulnerable to damage from an earthquake in the region.
Continuation of this parcel tax would raise more than $500 million over 15 years, although it will not increase the amount of annual taxes paid by residents. We believe the district has made a good case for continuing this tax and urge voters to approve Measure B.
Palo Alto School Board
(See editorial published Oct. 12)
Melissa Baten Caswell (i)
Palo Alto City Council
(See editorial published Oct. 5)
Pat Burt (i)
Greg Schmid (i)
Foothill-DeAnza College Board
Joan Barram (i)
Betsy Bechtel (i)
Laura Casas Frier (i)
County Board of Education
Grace Mah (i)
Rich Gordon (D) (i)
Jerry Hill (D)
U. S. Congress
Anna Eshoo (D)
Palo Alto Measure C (marijuana dispensaries)
No (See editorial published Sept. 14)
(See editorial published Oct. 19)
30 (Sales & income tax increase) Yes
31 (Political reform package) Yes
32 (Bans political payroll deductions) No
33 (Auto insurance) No
34 (Ends death penalty) Yes
35 (Penalties for human trafficking) Yes
36 (Revises Three Strikes law) Yes
37 (Food labeling) No
38 (School tax measure) Yes
39 (Fix tax loophole) Yes
40 (Redistricting) Yes
(i) = incumbent