The long-running ideological battle between Mayor Gavin Newsom and city lawmakers ignited into verbal blows Tuesday about the mayor’s proposal to offer tax breaks for San Francisco businesses.
Newsom said he’s fuming because progressive members of the Board of Supervisors have blocked three business tax break proposals that he says will maintain and create jobs.
He unleashed his outrage during a news conference at SoMa technology company Obscura Digital, whose CEO said Newsom’s tax measures would help keep his company’s headquarters in The City.
Progressive members of the board generally frown on providing tax breaks for businesses and often advocate for increased business taxes to offset cuts to city services and government employee layoffs.
Supervisor John Avalos, the progressive who’s head of the powerful Budget and Finance Committee, called the mayor’s tax proposal an incomplete, “faith-based” plan. Avalos has said he will not schedule the tax break legislation at the budget committee because it has no chance of being passed by the full board.
The refusal by Avalos and board President David Chiu to allow the public to debate his proposals is a serious shot to democracy, Newsom said.
He accused “three or four” progressive supervisors of pandering to a select group of voters and special interests.
Newsom charged that during conversations, supervisors expressed the lack of support because they feared the political backlash of supporting tax breaks.
Avalos responded Tuesday to “the steady drumbeat” of accusations from the Mayor’s Office about the tax breaks by saying the plan lacked “any real analysis” of how Newsom’s plan would work.
“I believe we can do better,” Avalos said.
In addition, the supervisor asked the city attorney on Tuesday to draft legislation that would set mandatory local hiring requirements for city contracts.
“Let’s put San Franciscans to work,” he said. “Let’s use our public infrastructure to make that happen.”
Chiu said he supports holding a public hearing on the tax proposals and has asked Avalos to do so. At the same time, Chiu said there needs to be more information and analysis on Newsom’s proposals.
Responding to the mayor’s accusations that they have not come up with viable ideas to boost employment in The City, Avalos and Chiu listed recent measures to stimulate jobs and the economy, including targeted tax breaks for businesses and the removal of burdensome business fees.