In a clear example of how a President’s words can have immediate impact, Maya Srikrishnan reports on how Donald Trump’s rhetoric on tax policy is already making it harder to get some affordable housing built in San Diego. As the federal government mulls corporate tax rates and “tax reform” efforts, banks are clutching their money until they can have more certainty about the risks they face.
Groups building government subsidized housing often use federal tax credits. They sell the credits to investors, who then apply the credits to reduce their own tax bill. “If the cuts materialize at the rates floated by Trump and Republicans in Congress, buying the tax credits now would end up as a loss,” Srikrishnan writes. Even groups that already have tax credits are finding them worth less on the investor market than they recently were. “Before the election, the tax credits were worth more than a dollar each. Now they’re worth around 90-95 cents,” Srikrishan reports.
• While we’re on the topic of checks written by the Presidential mouth, Reuters reports on estimates inside the Department of Homeland Security pinning the costs of President’s border wall at $21.6 billion, including 26 miles of new structure near San Diego in the earliest phase.
Market Is Up, Governments Are Broke
Unemployment is down, the stock market has reached all time highs; you might think the economy is in pretty good shape. But here in San Diego we’ve got gloom and doom on the horizon when it comes to our local government budgets. The city budget, the schools budget, and even the historically strong county budget — all are predicting shortfalls, Ashly McGlone reports.
At the city of San Diego and at San Diego Unified, it’s partly due to a familiar tune: pension costs. Those costs fluctuate on a variety of factors and make long-term predictions difficult. Voters have recently placed some restrictions on how the City’s tax revenues can be spent, and there’s less of those revenues to spend in general, McGlone notes. Over at San Diego Unified, the district has promised to “cut from the top first.”
The county, on the other hand, is bracing for politicians in Washington to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, placing a huge healthcare cost back onto the books. The county also has to shoulder big state cuts to healthcare funding, too.
The Learning Curve: Those School Budget Cuts
The budget cuts sought by San Diego Unified are looking to fill a $124 million hole. Aside from cutting vice principal positions, the district has also targeted librarians, recess monitors, and counselors. Mario Koran notes that some of the people in those roles are people parents and students care deeply about. “This is where education tends to get personal,” Koran writes. Many may wonder what they can do to help retain staff they feel passionately about.
If you want to fight one of the cuts, the first thing to do is figure out whether the decision is coming from a principal or from the central office. “Decisions like library hours or paying staff to monitor lunch or recess are actually made by principals,” Koran writes. Speaking to your principal or organizing other parents to make your voices heard can help. But if the decision is coming from central, your best approach may be to speak up publicly at a meeting of the school board.
• Koran also noted on Thursday that Superintendent Marten’s promise to bring “every qualified teacher possible” into the classroom, and not have them on “special assignments,” has been quietly removed on the social media post where she had originally made that claim. Perhaps you recall the weird and costly relationship the district has with people on “special assignments.”
Lottery School Payouts: San Diego Explained
For those of you who play the California lottery, you can rest assured knowing that 25 cents of every dollar you spend on efforts to get rich quick end up in the coffers of schools in California. In these hard times of budget cuts, it might be nice to know how much of your civic contribution is funding local schools. Ashly McGlone and NBC 7’s Monica Dean looked into the numbers and found that San Diego Unified has received around $16 million a year since 1984. They break down those numbers and more in our most recent San Diego Explained.
SANDAG Board: It’s Not That Bad
Now that we more thoroughly understand how the tax pushed through by SANDAG in 2004 isn’t bringing enough to build the projects promised, and we also know SANDAG staff was aware of the faulty nature of those projections as they tried to get voters to pass another tax increase last year, the credibility of SANDAG is being questioned more than ever.
On Thursday, the SANDAG board met to discuss the defeat of Measure A, the agency’s recent attempt at a tax increase, and to dream up new ways to fund transit projects in the future. KPBS’s Andrew Bowen writes one popular idea was to let smaller jurisdictions fund their own improvements, instead of implementing huge regional approaches. For example, people in South County, where transit support is strong, could fund their own improvements through an increased tax from the Metropolitan Transit System.
That would probably require a change of state law by the Legislature.
San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts “said he didn’t think SANDAG had lost its ability to win back voters’ trust,” Bowen reports.
• One in 20 residents of San Diego are unauthorized immigrants, according to new research by Pew. That group makes up about 22 per cent of San Diego’s total immigrant population. (Union-Tribune)
• Police body cameras have resulted in fewer misconduct allegations and fewer uses of “high-level” force by police officers at the San Diego Police Department. (Union-Tribune)
• A group of La Jolla business owners who sued San Diego over the smell of sea lion feces lost their court case on Thursday. (Law360)