The L.A. City Council voted 10-4 today to put a half-cent sales tax increase on the March ballot. But all of the candidates for citywide office opposed it.
Councilman Eric Garcetti and Councilwoman Jan Perry, who are running for mayor, voted no. So did Councilman Dennis Zine, who is running for controller.
Controller Wendy Greuel, who is also running for mayor and who has avoided taking positions on several controversial issues in the past, also came out squarely against the tax increase:
“I have serious concerns about putting an increase on the ballot without addressing current spending, and I would have voted against the increase,” Greuel said in a statement. “Taxing our way out is not the solution, but fixing the problem is.”
Garcetti did not explain his vote at the council meeting. Update: In a statement, Garcetti said “I believe the focus must be on growing our economy and creating jobs.”
Perry said she feared the tax would “cause other businesses to reconsider coming here or cause them to leave,” according to the L.A. Times. Update: From Perry's statement: “The tax before the Council was another example of our City balancing its books through quick fixes rather than making the long-term structural changes we need.”
If approved by a majority of voters, the sales tax would go up to 9.25% within L.A. city limits. The half-cent increase would bring in $208 million to $215 million a year.
L.A. officials note that voters in Culver City, Commerce and La Mirada approved sales tax increases last week. It could be more difficult, however, to pass a sales tax increase in a low-turnout city election, which would draw a more conservative electorate than the one that turned out for thepresidential election.