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Decision '92 : SPECIAL VOTERS' GUIDE TO STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS : THE LOCAL CONTESTS : Law Enforcement Measure Has Little Hope of Passing

October 25, 1992|MICHAEL GRANBERRY

Those who favor Proposition A say its approval would provide an estimated $125 million a year for jails, courthouses, a crime lab, a communications complex, officers to run those facilities and more police for law-enforcement agencies.

Criminal-justice proponents say the measure on the Nov. 3 ballot is desperately needed in a society, and county, increasingly beset by crime. But the same people say privately that they don't expect the initiative to pass because a two-thirds majority is required.

Proposition A actually passed once before. San Diego County voters approved it in 1988 by a 50.6% margin. But the state Supreme Court later ruled that it would take a two-thirds margin for approval under the provisions of Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 tax-cutting measure.

This time around, Proposition A has been reinserted on the ballot, albeit with reservations from some of its earlier defenders. Supervisor John MacDonald says the chances of passage are too slim to justify the $50,000 cost of putting it on the ballot.

The current version will be voted on during the worst economic slump since the Depression and in a period of increased unemployment and higher taxes approved by the Legislature last year.

"As a pragmatist," MacDonald said, "I think it's a waste of time and money."

Although the Board of Supervisors agreed 4-1 to put the issue before voters Nov. 3, Supervisor Susan Golding--who voted aye--echoed the concerns of many in complaining about the lack of a "sunset" provision.

In other words, the initiative, if approved, offers no timetable for when the county will stop collecting the tax.

As Supervisor George Bailey said, "I'd rather be up front and say we don't know how long it's going to take. When we have these (criminal-justice costs) under control, then we will reduce it from one-half to one-quarter cent."

Like many, Golding complained that the lack of a sunset provision makes the measure's already remote chances of passage even more unlikely.

In the meantime, the 4th District Court of Appeals has agreed to hold a hearing on the fate of $350 million collected under a half-cent San Diego County sales tax that was levied when the measure passed four years ago.

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