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Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA June 6, 2006 Election
Measure A
Sales Tax
County of Santa Clara

Majority Approval Required

Fail: 115,239 / 42.87% Yes votes ...... 153,592 / 57.13% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of June 26 11:47am, 100.00%% of Precincts Reporting (1115/1115)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall a one-half cent sales tax be enacted, for 30 years, for general county purposes, such as:
  • The County hospital and clinics;
  • Trauma and emergency services;
  • Affordable homes for families and seniors;
  • Health insurance for uninsured children;
  • Prevention programs for at-risk youth, families and seniors;
  • Transportation improvements approved in city and countywide transportation plans;
  • Services for abused and neglected children;

with a Citizens Oversight Committee ensuring fiscal accountability by reviewing the Annual Audit?


Impartial Analysis from the County Counsel
Measure A would authorize a one-half cent sales tax within the County of Santa Clara. The sales tax would be a general tax. California Government Code section 53721 defines a general tax as one "imposed for general governmental purposes." If approved by a majority of the voters, the sales tax will become effective on October 1, 2006.

California Revenue and Taxation Code section 7285 authorizes the County Board of Supervisors to levy a transactions and use (i.e., "sales") tax for general purposes at certain rates, including a .50 (i.e., cent) rate, if the tax is approved by a majority of the voters in an election on that issue.

Measure A states that the one-half cent sales tax is to be used "for general county purposes." This means that the tax proceeds may be used by the County for any legal governmental purpose without restriction. The County is not in any way legally bound to use the tax monies for any special purpose or for any particular project or projects.

The measure contains two mandatory restrictions. First, a "Citizens' Oversight Committee" will be created to review the Annual Audit. The County will be legally obligated to cooperate with the Committee in its review of the Audit. The Committee has no authority to direct or control the use of the tax funds by the County.

Second, the tax must expire after 30 years. Voters approving the measure are expressly approving the imposition of the tax for a period commencing October 1, 2006 and terminating September 30, 2036. Thereafter, the authority to collect the tax ceases by operation of law.

These two "mandatory restrictions" do not in any way legally restrict the scope of the County's right to use the tax proceeds for "general county purposes." They limit the duration of the collection of the tax, and establish a "Citizens' Oversight Committee" to review Annual Audits.

By: /s/ Ann Miller Ravel

County Counsel


May 12, Friday, 7:30pm, Saratoga Library Community Room, Saratoga Ave. and Fruitvale Ave. PROS & CONS on State, County, Foothill/DeAnza College, & Saratoga Measures Sponsored by the League of Women Voters
Partisan Information


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Arguments For Measure A Arguments Against Measure A
Measure A will generate critically-needed local funds for high-priority local needs like health care, transportation, trauma and emergency services. By law, these funds cannot be taken away by the state or federal government. Neighborhood and community leaders support Measure A because of the following facts:

Tragically, there are 22,000 reported incidents of Child Abuse or Neglect annually in Santa Clara County, each requiring thorough investigation and compassionate care

That's why County Schools Superintendent Colleen Wilcox endorses Measure A.

The County Hospital, providing health care, trauma and emergency services for 200,000 residents annually, needs $750 million in Earthquake Safety upgrades.

That's why Santa Clara County Firefighters President Art Marshall supports Measure A.

Local employers and workers need a fast, efficient, regional transit system; including BART, CalTrain, Light Rail and transit service for seniors and the disabled.

That's why Synopsys CEO Aart de Geus supports Measure A.

Over 1,000 Santa Clara County children are on waiting lists for basic healthcare insurance, due to inadequate funding.

That's why Lucile Packard Children's Hospital CEO Christopher Dawes supports Measure A.

Streets countywide are in dire need of pothole repair and other improvements. Our eight County expressways + Almaden, Capitol, Central, Foothill, Lawrence, Montague, Oregon and San Tomas need capacity upgrades and signal timing to serve the 850,000 commuters who use them daily.

That's why Metropolitan Transportation Commissioner and Past Chair Jim Beall supports Measure A.

Measure A ensures fiscal accountability by requiring Annual Independent Audits available and open to the public. An Independent Citizens Oversight Committee will monitor spending to ensure every dollar is spent efficiently and without waste.

That's why Father Paul Locatelli, CPA and President of Santa Clara University supports Measure A.

Join hundreds of environmental, faith, neighborhood, business, labor and community leaders in supporting Measure A. To learn more, or volunteer, visit our web site at

/s/ Michael M. Honda

Congressman, 15th District
/s/ Laurie Smith
Sherrif, Santa Clara County
/s/ Sally E. Pyle
Chair, Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County
/s/ Joe Coto
State Assemblyman, 23rd Assembly District, and former School Superintendent
/s/ Rod Diridon, Sr.
Chair, League of Conservation Voters of Santa Clara County

Rebuttal to Arguments For
There's no guarantee how this tax will be spent. It could go to anything.

Proponents list seven distinct VTA projects, including light rail.

Using the county's own revenue forecasts, those projects alone would need 94% of this tax - before cost overruns. That leaves nothing for health care or social services.

These are the same projects they promised us in 2000.

The 2000 ballot argument promised "Over $2 billion ... for potholes, signal synchronization, lane widenings, and highway safety." It claimed "[2000] Measure A pays operating costs ... for decades without additional taxes."

The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury called it "over-promising of programs to voters" - deliberately making false promises in order to pass a tax.

The report further states that negative information was withheld until after the election.

For this tax,

The oversight committee won't have the legal power to block a single wasteful project.
The county deficit will be $32 million in 2010. An $80 million quarter cent tax would be plenty.
The county allows many employees to retire at 50, but still keep 90% of their pay. That money could have been spent on services, but wasn't.
A Metropolitan Transportation Commission audit found "VTA's cost efficiency declined in nearly every year of the audit period. ... (cost effectiveness) declined an average of 11 percent annually."
VTA could raise as much money as a half percent tax just by improving efficiency to the national average.

Vote NO on this back room deal. There's time for a quarter percent in November.

/s/ Patrick Moore

Member 1996 Measure B Citizen's Watchdog Committee
/s/ Eugene Bradley
Founder, Santa Clara VTA Riders Union
/s/ Mark Brodsky
Small business owner, Mayor of Monte Sereno
/s/ Greg Perry
Vice Mayor, Mountain View
They want to raise your taxes, and lower their own. Important backers of this measure are pushing a bill (SB1291 - Alquist) through the California legislature to exempt their purchases from the 6% State portion of the sales tax. Check it out at

Raising the sales tax is bad for families.

Sales taxes unfairly burden low income families the most.
The average family's share is over $14,000.
Santa Clara County will tie for the highest tax rate in California.
Over 30 years, this tax will cost 8.4 billion dollars.
High taxes make it more expensive for businesses to expand, driving jobs away.

This tax is not about county services.

Last year, county revenues were $2.8 billion, 6.8% higher than the previous year.
County tax revenues are nearly four times what they were a decade ago.
The original plan was for a quarter percent tax, more than enough to cover total projected deficits.

So why a half percent?

Put simply, this tax is about a back room deal to funnel your tax dollars to the VTA.

The sales tax increase was requested by SVLG, the same group seeking a sales tax exemption.
Just two days after the county voted for this tax, the VTA created a subcommittee to decide how to spend the money.
VTA receives 400 million tax dollars every year, including a full one percent sales tax.
VTA is tremendously inefficient. They spend more per bus than nearly every other transit agency in the nation, ranking 362 out of 368. LA, Chicago, New York, San Mateo, and San Francisco all spend less than the VTA.

Our tax money should not go to an agency this irresponsible. If the county needs the money, we can vote on a quarter percent tax in November. Vote no on this back room deal.

/s/ David Casas

Council Member, City of Los Altos & Former VTA Board Member
/s/ Patrick Moore
Member, 1996 Measure B Citizen's Watchdog Committee
/s/ Greg Perry
Member, VTA board of Directors
/s/ Douglas A. McNea
President, Silicon Valley Taxpayers' Association
/s/ Kevin Takenaga
Chair, Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
As Measure A supporters, we've met with thousands of citizens + You've told us we need local funds for local priorities that cannot be taken away by the State.

You've also shared your top priorities for Measure A funds:

Quality Health Care;
Access to our County Hospital and Clinics;
Transportation improvements like BART and CalTrain, pothole repairs and County Expressway upgrades;
Health Insurance for uninsured kids;
Emergency Preparedness and Trauma Services;
Compassionate care for abused and neglected children;

Please look closely at the Supporters of Measure A. Many of our organizations led successful efforts to build Highway 85, schools, parks, libraries and roads.

Measure A ensures:

Accountability through Independent Annual Audits and a Citizens Oversight Committee.
Local funds for first responders - firefighters, doctors and nurses - for emergencies ranging from earthquakes and floods to pandemics like the Bird Flu.
Fairness: Less fortunate families can receive vital medical services, and sales taxes are not paid on essential expenses like housing, food, utilities, healthcare, childcare and transit.

Now, please look carefully at the organizations opposing Measure A.

Several fought against recent measures to build schools, roads, parks, libraries, BART and CalTrain. If they had been successful, many vital transportation and school construction projects wouldn't exist.

Measure A's opponents have been against practically everything. They cannot attack Measure A's important priorities, so they take the low road, leveling baseless charges of "backroom deals."

Measure A means local funds for local priorities. Funds the state and federal government cannot take away.

Vote YES on Measure A.

/s/ Michael M. Honda

Congressman, 15th District
/s/ Arthur R. Marshall
President, Santa Clara County Firefighters
/s/ Susan Hammer
Former Mayor of San Jose
/s/ Sally E. Pyle
Chair, Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County
/s/ Anna G. Eshoo
Congresswoman, 14th District

Full Text of Measure A
This measure authorizes the enactment of a one-half of one percent retail transaction and use (sales) tax for general county purposes. The tax will be imposed for the 30-year period beginning on October 1, 2006 and ending on September 30, 2036. Revenues from this tax will be placed into the County general fund and will be available for any and all general county purposes such as:

The County hospital and clinics;
Trauma and emergency services;
Affordable homes for families and seniors;
Health insurance for uninsured children;
Prevention programs for at-risk youth, families and seniors;
Transportation improvements approved in city and countywide transportation plans;
Services for abused and neglected children;

with a Citizens Oversight Committee ensuring fiscal accountability by reviewing the Annual Audit.

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