Let’s hear it for the sales tax! I’m all for the tax increase. As a matter of fact, I think it should be larger! Let’s fix the schools, and give them enough money to make some real changes. The question is, how much money do they need?
Councilwoman Gleam Davis already proposed giving half of the tax to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Which only begs my original question, which as of yet no one has answered. Neither the angry e-mails from the PTA, nor any of the concerned parents have been able to tell me specifically how much money the schools need to get the kids to pass the University of California math and reading placement tests at college level. So, I’m going to work the math backwards and see how much we can give them.
We’ve just spent $123.7 million on 11,565 students. That is $10,696 per student. A half-percent sales tax is estimated to generate $13 million annually. So, twice that amount means a 1 percent tax will generate $26 million per year. If we raise taxes to 100 percent, we would have a maximum tax collection of $2.3 billion. Arthur Laffer won a Nobel Prize for proving that if you tax someone 100 percent they stop working, but the good news is, it doesn’t apply to purchases in the same way.
Right now, one of the best schools in the area, Harvard-Westlake, charges about $35,000 per year. With that in mind, we’d have to come up with $24,674 per student to get the same education they have. If we raised the sales tax an additional 11 percent, we’d generate the $281 million SMMUSD needs. So by tripling the budget with $404 million, they should be able to get a majority of the graduates to pass the UC placement tests at college level, right? All we have to do is pass an additional 11 percent to reach our goal.
The math is almost magical. You see, an 11 percent increase would put our total sales tax at 20.25 percent for all purchases. People, this is for the children. They’re our future, and you’re short-changing them from getting the best education our city can produce. Just imagine for a moment a majority of the students being able to go to college! Their parents may not be able to afford it, though.
Now I know the rest of my Republican friends aren’t going to be happy that I wrote this column. They might even toss me out of the party. They’re going to tell me how stupid my idea is. The arguments will echo with the hollow old story of greedy business people who’ll have to close up shop when shallow, selfish people drive over to Venice, Brentwood and Malibu to avoid the tax. They’ll even complain that less tourists will come to our town as well. Those Republicans will try to scare us into believing that we’ll all lose our jobs in the city due to the sales tax, and have to commute, which will destroy the planet.
But I say hogwash to them all. I know the people of Santa Monica will go out of their way to only purchase things in Santa Monica just to make sure they help our kids. Heck, I’ll bet people from other cities will come and buy things from our local businesses just to help our children. Business will boom and thrive because our cause is just. Just look at the flood of $198-donations the district received from the 13,671 voters who said yes to measure A. The people are in a giving mood.
It’s only an 11 percent increase, but I say let’s make it an even 25 percent sales tax so we can take care of the city’s future as well, and be less dependent on state and federal collections. For all the property owners, if we raised the tax by 15.75 percent, I’m almost certain no one will come to you in the future and ask you to pay your fair share, and increase your current property tax because the city will have more money than it would know what to do with.
Think of all of the new jobs this will create as well. Santa Monica can benefit in the same way as America benefited from the census workers, who stimulated the economy and turned this country around (or is that just what we were told would happen?). The increase in city jobs, as well as a three-fold increase in the number of people in the SMMUSD, will make Santa Monica boom. We could even step up to a 100 percent tax. That would allow us to pay everyone in Santa Monica $22,224 a year to do something green, or teach children how to glue macaroni to paper plates. Visualize the best schools in the United States, green jobs and no unemployment. We would have Utopia. A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.
If we don’t look at a sales tax then we could look at a resident tax. Every resident pays an equal amount of money toward our fine city. Equal vote, equal benefit, equal rights, equal resident tax. It is wrong to tax someone else for your benefit. After watching 13,671 Measure A voters arrogantly try to push their obligation onto someone else, personal responsibility would be refreshing.
David Alsabery is a closet Republican Socialist and all around nice guy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.