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Before Lani Lutar arrived at the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the SDCTA was known mainly as a bunch of anti-tax zealots — good for the occasional mau mau, but one-dimensional and with little to contribute to actual governing. Lutar, I imagine, found that dull and limiting. She’s attempted since to remake the SDCTA into more of a local policy shop for fiscal conservatism and good governance. One problem: sometimes new revenue is the fiscally conservative thing to do. Having painted SDCTA into a bit of a corner, we now get “reform before revenue.”

Scott nailed it, I think. Until a realistic line is drawn with reform and revenue, SDCTA is not advocating, they’re heckling. I’d add an important, specific marker they need to identify: what level of retirement compensation do they believe is appropriate for city workers? Forget for a moment whether that is paid via pensions or another mechanism. The city should pay its fair share. So how much is that, SDCTA? Without a marker, taxpayers will always be paying “too much” and SDCTA will never have anything to contribute to a serious discussion of trash fees, property transfer fees, and so on.

I’ll be interested to see which SDCTA/Lutar wins out in the end: the “reform before revenue” rejectionists or the would-be policy wonk.

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