The San Diego County Taxpayers Association supported the 2012 Prop. B pension reform measure. In 2018, the group has supported several school bond measures and is neutral on the gas tax repeal. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

It is amusing that two San Diego County Taxpayers Association board members — one a paid labor union advocate — have resigned because the outfit isn’t supporting even more tax increases than it already does. SDCTA is an effective pro-business outfit — essentially a clone of the Chamber of Commerce. But SDCTA is not a taxpayer outfit. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

I say that as a frustrated member of SDCTA who has served on its issues committee for several years, but who will not be renewing the pricey annual membership to this group. As a true taxpayer advocate for decades, I’ve actively sought other solutions to more tax increases — something that doesn’t interest SDCTA.

There was a time when SDCTA championed the taxpayer — at least on certain issues. Especially on pension reform.

But those days are gone. This year SDCTA supports the Oceanside sales tax increase, which clearly is a pension tax, though no one will admit it. SDCTA won’t support Proposition 6, the repeal of the latest gas tax increase. But it supports just about any school bond if that bond allows nonunion firms to bid on the construction contracts.

SDCTA is a “form over substance” outfit — any tax increase proponent that properly jumps through the association’s procedural hoops will get the coveted “taxpayer” endorsement. While obsessed with procedure, SDCTA never asks, “How can we provide government services more efficiently for less cost?”

The issues committee used to have a number of grassroots pro-taxpayer members. But the SDCTA annual membership fee was raised dramatically, resulting in most not renewing their membership. Now most of the committee members represent special interests, especially the construction industry. “Logrolling” in SDCTA is common though never publicly discussed — “I’ll support your subsidy if you’ll support mine.”

At best, SDCTA supports “efficient government” and “good government practices” — whatever that is. It does not represent what most people think a taxpayer group does — trying to hold the line on taxes.

In the past I have encouraged SDCTA to drop the “taxpayer” word from its moniker. I once suggested the name San Diego Downtown Big Businessmen’s Subsidy Association, but that cumbersome name was properly deemed to be both sexist and inaccurate because SDCTA represents big business interests throughout the county.

Since conning the public into thinking that SDCTA represents taxpayer interests is paramount to their influence in the region, the ruse will continue. I can only hope that someday an investigative reporter will look at the composition of the SDCTA board and the association approval procedures, exposing the blatant special interest control of this supposed “taxpayer” group.

One thing’s for sure: Today an SDCTA endorsement of a tax increase is meaningless — or worse.

Richard Rider is an activist and the chairman of the San Diego Tax Fighters.

Richard Rider

Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters

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