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Numerous Northern California Tax Issues Go Down Flaming... Does It Mean Anything?

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Perhaps lost in the hubbub over Team Greek Sacramento's Tuesday win is the repeated failure of tax measures around the region.

In my hood, Solano County voters seriously rejected a half-cent sales tax measure for fixed roads and better public transportation. And if you've driven between Dixon and Fairfield, or down Highway 12 through Suisun City, or god-forbird from Benicia or points south to Fairfield, you know the roads are in bad shape. Nonetheless, sales tax backers didn't even sniff victory.

In the South Bay, a general tax measure (much like the one rumored for Sacramento in November) failed to come close to the 50 percent needed for adoption. Santa Clara County's Measure A would've likely funded a BART extension into San Jose (with the nearest station being up in Fremont) and some healthcare service expansion. BART and healthcare might be more important than basketball, though I'm not certain about this.

There were also two statewide bond/tax measures up for vote, and both failed miserably. The bond, for library construction, did a bit better than the preschool-funded-by-millionaires tax measure, but neither seemed to have a chance.

So, does any of this mean anything for the prospective November tax measure to raise funds for an arena?

I think it's a discouraging indicator, if nothing else. I'm not a political genius or anything, but something tells me if people aren't willing to tax themselves for road repairs, healthcare improvements, enhanced public transportation, libraries, and universal preschool, they might not want to subsidize an NBA arena.

On the other hand, the Solano and Santa Clara measures were half-cent sales taxes. That's a big jump. Solano would've went from 7.375 percent to 7.875 percent - not something to sneeze at. Santa Clara's base sales tax is an already astronomical 8.25 percent, so that could factor in.

The tax being discussed in Sacramento would apparently be a quarter-cent increase. Obviously, that's not as bad. Cities and school districts often pitch eighth-cent or quarter-cent tax measures on ballots successfully, often for very specific things that can't be financed otherwise. The arena would seem to be something that can't be financed otherwise.

Also, the backers of the tax measures that failed Tuesday weren't exactly political or cultural heavyweights. The library bond (which is different than the prospective tax measure in more ways than it is similar) ran a nearly stealth campaign. The preschool measure suffered from bad politics and bad publicity. The roads campaign in Solano took a couple of nasty hits in the last week, and started off pretty rocky due to some internal politics. I haven't been that focused on the Santa Clara campaign, but I've heard that voters complained that the seemingly dual issues muddied things up a bit. I hope to find out more about the race in the next couple weeks, since it seems to most resemble the measure here.

So in short, I think the regional failures are distressing, but not debilitating.