A proposed ballot measure for a half-cent sales tax to raise an estimated $81 million a year for Contra Costa County programs — mostly social services — is still waiting for approval of a key bill in the state Legislature.
At a special meeting Friday afternoon, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to allow one more week, from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31, for approval of Senate Bill 1349. That approval has taken longer than expected for several reasons, but a consultant told the supervisors on Friday that it appears the bill, authored by state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, will become law sometime this week.
The Contra Costa sales tax measure, since assigned the official designation “Measure X,” depends on passage of SB 1349, drafted by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda. The bill has been amended to include language providing relief to the county and several cities — Concord, Danville, Lafayette, Pittsburg, San Ramon and Orinda — for future similar tax measures. Without passage of SB 1349, Measure X cannot move forward.
And unless Gov. Gavin Newsom calls a special session, the current Legislative session is scheduled to end Aug. 31.
County legal consultant James Gross told the supervisors Friday he expects Newsom will not stand in the bill’s way, and that it’s likely to be passed this week.
A county-commissioned poll showed at least 59 percent support for Measure X, depending on various specific inclusions. Among the most strongly supported uses for the tax money it would raise, the poll results showed, are mental health care, after-school programs, the Contra Costa County Regional Medical Center in Martinez and for increasing transparency and accountability of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.
The supervisors heard Friday from a handful of callers who opposed Measure X, whatever SB 1349’s timing.
“There are just too many variables, and it’s time to pull the plug on Measure X,” said Sue Pricco, president of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association. “It’s a terrible time to tax people more.”
County Supervisor Candace Andersen agreed, casting the board’s only “no” vote Friday as she had on July 28.
Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said at the July 28 board meeting that she wouldn’t support moving forward with Measure X if SB 1349 wasn’t signed by Aug. 21. But a combination of Gross’s optimistic read on Newsom’s response to Glazer’s bill, a lower ballot printing cost than originally thought ($211,000 instead of $500,000 or more) and the ever-increasing need to fund COVID-19-related county services as the pandemic stretches resources thin persuaded Mitchoff to support waiting an extra week to put Measure X on the ballot.
“This (sales tax) is the only way I can see that we will ever have resources to do that,” Mitchoff said.