City of Los Angeles Sales Tax Increase, Proposition A (March 2013)

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Proposition A
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Type:Referred ordinance
Referred by:Los Angeles City Council
Topic:Local Sales Tax
A City of Los Angeles Sales Tax Increase, Proposition A ballot question was on the March 5, 2013 ballot for voters in the City of Los Angeles in Los Angeles County, where it was defeated.[1]

If Proposition A had been approved, the sales tax on the purchase of goods and services made within the city would have increased by half-a-cent.[1] Due to the Proposition 30 sales tax increase, the sales tax in the city increased to 9% on January 1, 2013. It would have gone to 9.5% for city residents on July 1, 2013 if they had approved Proposition A.[2]

Proposition A would have resulted in an additional $215 million a year for the city's general fund.[3]

The City of Los Angeles estimated that in the fiscal year starting on July 1, 2013, it would have a budget deficit of $216 million. The proposed sales tax increase was intended to deal with that situation.[2]

Election results

Proposition A
Defeatedd No184,55954.67%
Yes 153,000 45.32%
These final, certified, results are from the Office of the City Clerk of Los Angeles.



Los Angeles council member Paul Krekorian, who chairs the city's Budget and Finance Committee, supported the tax hike. He said, "When this city doesn’t function, when you can’t drive on the streets, when you can’t walk on the sidewalk, when we’re laying our employees off and putting them on the welfare rolls, that affects jobs and that affects our economy and that affects our city’s friendliness toward business as well."[3]

Herb Wesson, who is the president of the Los Angeles City Council, said, "We need time to slow down and breathe, which is what this sales tax will do. It will afford each and every one of us the opportunity to do forward thinking where it relates to our future."[3]

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, a union that represents rank-and-file police officers in the city, endorsed Proposition A.[4]

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that if Proposition A is defeated, staffing in the department might have to be rolled back to about 9,500 officers. Each LAPD police officer costs the city about $148,000/year in wages and benefits.[4]


As of March 2, 2013, the "Yes on Measure A" campaign had raised slightly over $1.5 million.

The largest donors were:

Donor Amount
SEIU $150,000
Anschutz Entertainment Group $117,313
Casden West LA LLC $100,000
AFSCME $96,500
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $75,000
Constellation Place, LLC $75,000
Clear Channel Outdoor $50,071
KW/WDC Westmoreland, LLC $50,000
California Association of Realtors PAC $50,000
AFL-CIO $50,000
SP Plus Municipal Services $40,000
Van Wagner Communications, LLC $37,293



City council member Mitch Englander said that before expecting city residents to pay a higher sales tax, "We’ve got to be able to demonstrate that we’ve exhausted all of our resources, that we’ve turned over every stone. That we’ve gone down and cut not only the fat and the bone and muscle as some people are suggesting but we’ve actually gotten rid of all of the other additional things we shouldn’t be doing — all of the other additional layers."[3]

City council member Dennis Zine said, "We have businesses closing down and people telling me they cannot pay any more in taxes. I think we still have room in the city budget to find more savings."[1]

Several mayoral candidates opposed the tax hike. Candidates who announced their opposition to it included Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Kevin James. In a mayoral debate, Greuel said, "I have concerns about going to the public for a sales tax at a time when the public doesn't believe we've done everything that we can do." Garcetti said, "I think we need to have an emphasis on growing our economy. We can't tax our way out of this."[5]

Jack Humphreville signed the official sample ballot argument against Proposition A. He said that the city has runaway personnel costs which make it impossible to fund programs needed in the city: "They're trying to extort us. They're trying to scare the hell out of us by threatening basic public safety. Yet they're not controlling the largest cost factor, which is personnel expenses."[4]


As of February 27, 2013, there have been no donations to any campaign efforts against Measure A.

Newspaper editorials

"No on Measure A"

  • The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times weighed in on the "no" side in an editorial on February 13. They wrote, "The issue for voters, though, is whether to accept the outgoing administration and council's judgment on how to solve the city's enduring budget problems, or to give the incoming leaders a chance to set their own priorities. All five of the top candidates for mayor have argued against the tax proposal. It may be just political posturing, but each one asserts that he or she can close the budget gap in the coming year without resorting to a levy that could hurt vulnerable consumers, deter businesses from locating in the city and slow the commerce that fuels the economy."[6]
  • The editorial board of the Los Angeles Daily News also opposes Measure A. They wrote, "We are convinced that city leaders need to live within their means. And we think they will be more likely to find ways to do that if they can't tap into a nearly quarter-billion-dollar new revenue stream - not only for the next few years but from here on out. Proposition A would be a permanent mistake for which L.A. residents and visitors would pay the price."[7]

Polling information

See also: Polls, 2013 ballot measures

ABC-7 polled Proposition A in mid-February.[8]

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
February 2013 ABC-7 26% 46% 28% 509

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

MEASURE LA-A: "To offset severe and repeated State cuts and provide funding for: 911 emergency response services; maintaining firefighter, paramedic, and police officer staffing levels; continuing community policing, senior services, after-school gang and drug prevention programs; repairing potholes and sidewalks; and other general municipal services; shall the City of Los Angeles enact a one-half cent transactions and use (generally referred to as sales) tax, with required independent audits, public review of expenditures, and all funds used locally?"[9]

Path to the ballot

The Los Angeles City Council voted 10-4 on November 13, 2012 to refer the measure to the March 5, 2013 ballot.[1]

The four council members who voted against referring the measure to the ballot were Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti, Dennis Zine and Mitch Englander.[3]

See also

External links

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