Statement: “Our taxes have gone down ladies and gentlemen. You are paying less taxes today than you were paying last year and the year before and the year before that. But that hasn’t necessarily done anything to generate new business in San Diego,” said Council President Ben Hueso, City Council hearing, July 26.
Analysis: Ladies and gentlemen, this was a bit of a whopper.
After I heard him make this statement, and re-listened to the meeting to transcribe it, I asked Hueso’s office what he could have been thinking.
“Since the city is receiving less in sales tax today versus last year (-$22.7 million) and the year before (-$11.9) and the year before that (-$17.4 million), it stands to reason that people are paying less,” Michelle Ganon, Hueso’s spokeswoman, responded to me in an e-mail.
There are a number of things wrong with this.
First, yes, the city’s revenues from sales taxes have declined. But not because taxes have gone down. It’s a recession, and people are buying fewer things, hence the city has collected less in sales tax revenue.
Second, the government’s share of a sales transaction has only gone up. Last year, the state raised the sales tax 1 percent across the board, for all cities, including San Diego. People definitely aren’t paying lower sales taxes.
There really is no way to spin his statement as anything but false.
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— SCOTT LEWIS
Update: We added the next sentence from Hueso’s statement for added context on the argument he was making.