The Measure U Tax in Sacramento was implemented as a temporary general tax in 2012 to restore City services after the recession of 2008. In 2018, the Council established the Measure U Community Advisory Committee to collect community input on where the funds should be spent.
Recently, some members of the community and local activists have seen flaws with the ways Measure U funds are distributed. In an interview, vice chair of the Sacramento Youth Commission, Naomi Piper-Pell explained, “… I phone banked and helped pass measure U back in 2018. I was excited for there to be more money going towards youth and underserved communities… I wanted the money to go towards those programs and I understand that we have budget issues because of CoronaVirus, but I do not like the way the mayor and city manager have planned for this money to go towards this loss in revenue.”
In times of economic uncertainty some changes have to be made and some Sacramentans are worried about what aspects of their lives may not receive government funding. Local activist Miles Leri explained “I know that the taxes go to “essential city services” but I think it’s time that we take a look at what we consider essential. Also, I haven’t seen much change despite the money reportedly going back into the city.”
Measure U funds are extremely important to various programs run by the City. Many Sacramentans believe that economic justice programs can coincide perfectly with calls from the community to defund the Sacramento Police Department in favor of community programs and health services.
Commissioner Piper-Pell continued, “I think the best way to make up the loss in revenue is to cut the Sacramento police budget dramatically and use those funds. Currently the SACPD has a $154 million budget and is actually getting an increase. I see that cutting the budget for the police won’t just soften the fiscal blow from COVID-19 but also leave more money like from measure U to promote more community based violence prevention programs and educational and workforce development opportunities.”
According to the City Of Sacramento website, the previous Measure U tax paid for “195 positions in the Police Department”, which many are arguing contradicts the principles of replacing City services after the recession when these services may not serve the best interests of the community. Many Sacramentans have other ideas on how the money should be spent.
“We should be putting these funds towards a solution to the homeless crisis, sustainable energy sources, youth programs, and public spaces like parks and libraries. We shouldn’t be putting a large portion of the money into the police, but rather rehabilitation services and things along that line,” Leri continued.
When programs are being cut, it is often that programs for youth and low-income communities are the first to be cut. Appropriating Measure U funds to these programs would provide the City with an opportunity to show its commitment to serving these communities.
“During a time like we are in, the youth and community programs that were to be financed by Measure U are going to be more critical than ever for helping youth and especially youth in underserved communities get back on their feet and to have access to critical resources.”