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Proposition D, the city of San Diego’s sales tax and financial reform ballot measure, received its first major support from a business organization Thursday morning with an endorsement from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“We never set out to have a sales tax,” said Tom Wornham, the chamber’s board chairman. “Our objective is to have permanent fiscal reforms that ends the city’s structural deficit.”

Wornham said the City Council’s attempt Monday to tighten the projected reforms swayed the chamber board.

Monday’s council resolution, proposed by a business-led task force, requires the city cut an average of $73 million a year from its budget and limit new spending. The task force concluded the city would end its ongoing budget deficits with a new tax combined with those reforms.

Wornham added the chamber would be vigilant in holding Mayor Jerry Sanders and the council to its word on cuts.

“If they don’t do this, we will be the first people in the parade to throw them out of office,” Wornham said.

The chamber hasn’t broken with Sanders, a Prop. D supporter, on a key issue during his five years in office. Its endorsement is one payoff for a gamble Prop. D supporters took last week when they backed findings from the task force’s analysis. The task force was highly critical of Prop. D, arguing that without further action it wouldn’t fix the city’s financial problems. But by conceding the ballot measure’s weakness and adopting a follow up resolution, Prop. D proponents earned key backing. Until now, the proposal the city’s organized labor unions provided most of the institutional support.

Wornham said he didn’t expect the chamber would help finance the Yes on D campaign, and wasn’t sure what contributions the organization’s individual members might make.

Meantime, opponents of Prop. D took a preemptive strike against the chamber yesterday, with a rally featuring 11 business organizations against the measure, including the local restaurant association and new car dealers’ organization. In the release announcing the rally, opponents called the chamber “politically compromised.” Right-wing blog SDRostra.Com weighed in Wednesday calling the chamber, “The Chamber of Who Cares.”

Wornham said the board’s vote wasn’t unanimous, but that it passed by a “significant margin.” He wouldn’t confirm a report in the U-T that put the margin at 20-14 in favor.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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