Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider has chosen a stick-and-stick approach to filling a budget shortfall and reforming public pensions.
She is seeking a November ballot measure to increase the city sales tax to 8.25 percent, making it among the highest in Southern California. And she wants a special tax on late-night establishment sales as well as direction from voters to force public employees to pay their fair share of pension costs.
We agree that public employees have to bear a greater share of pension costs and we’ll grant that Santa Barbara has a long history of forcing tourists to pay the freight for city services and schools.
But Schneider’s plan offers no incentives for businesses that actually create jobs, and we’d argue that increased employment is the best way to increase tax revenue for the long haul. We’d also argue that with a much higher tax rate than Ventura, Santa Barbara runs the risk of runaway business, where local residents will flee elsewhere for big ticket purchases, such as autos, boats and furniture.