Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Labor opposes proposed increase in Los Angeles city sales tax

SEIU Local 721

Alice Walton/KPCC

SEIU Local 721 opposed the city's efforts to change its pension system. Now, the labor group is opposing the Los Angeles City Council's plan to increase the city sales tax.

A union representing Los Angeles city workers has joined the top mayoral candidates in opposing a plan to increase the city sales tax a half percent.

A committee of SEIU Local 721 unanimously voted to oppose the measure that is expected to appear on the March 5, 2013 ballot. The Los Angeles City Council will take a final vote on Tuesday to send the proposed increase to voters.

“The proposed half-cent sales tax is a regressive tax that would hurt middle class workers in Los Angeles," said SEIU 721 President Bob Schoonover. "Our members decided they just couldn’t support it."

“The city council ignored other revenue raising measures, and did so by relying on polls generated by real estate industry lobbyists. Neither council President [Herb] Wesson, nor the council as a whole has studied this measure independently or discussed it with city workers.”

Los Angeles’ sales tax will be nine percent at the start of the year thanks to a the quarter-cent increase included in Prop 30. If voters ultimately approve this new increase, the sales tax will be 9.5 percent starting on July 1.

Mayoral candidates and current city council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry are opposed to the tax hike, as is fellow candidate, City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has not yet said whether he will endorse the measure. In a letter to the mayor, Wesson outlined financial reforms the city council is considering in addition to the sales tax plan. 

Wesson wrote: “We look forward to your support of Proposition A, the Neighborhood Public Safety and Vital City Services Funding and Accountability Measure. As you well stated, very few responsible spending cuts remain on the table.  With your help and support, we will put the city back on the track to a more sustainable and efficient government." 

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