Voters in Pleasanton will help decide the fate of a proposed new half-cent sales tax across Alameda County for the next 20 years (Measure C), with 80% of the funds supporting childcare, preschool and early education programs and 20% supporting pediatric health care.
It's similar to the Measure A sales tax proposal (for childcare and preschool only) that just barely failed at the polls in June 2018 -- earning 66.20% of the vote, just short of the 66.67% required for passage.
The concerns we had with that 2018 ballot measure have only been exasperated by the Measure C campaign.
The need for quality, affordable childcare, early education and pediatric health care is undeniable, but Measure C is not the solution.
Given the plan outlined in the initiative ordinance, it's difficult to see how the Tri-Valley will benefit from the tax funding. It's likely priority will be given to communities with larger concentrations of low- and middle-income children in need.
We also question whether a new sales tax is really the most appropriate public funding mechanism to increase support for childcare and pediatric health care.
But what's most troublesome is the campaign itself.
Go to the "Yes on C: Care for Our Kids" website, and good luck finding the phrase "sales tax" anywhere (unless you manage to find the link to the full 13-page ordinance). Are they trying to hoodwink voters? Be upfront about the basic terms.
Also concerning is that the passage threshold for Measure C appears to be unclear.
The proponents, on their ballot submittal form, claim it would only need a simple majority to pass -- not the typical two-thirds supermajority for a special tax.
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office declined our request for a specific answer, telling us we'd need to contact the proponents.
We found a little more context on the website of First 5 Alameda County, which would be the administrator of the Measure C childcare program, saying the threshold for approving a voter-qualified special tax is now unclear (simple majority vs. two-thirds supermajority) in light of multiple court cases pending appeal in California. "Consequently, the threshold will be determined in future court decisions."
Just be direct with the voters about the tax measure you want them to adopt. That's not what we've seen here.
Vote No on Measure C.