Plan to offer tax breaks to hire ex-felons moves forward

A plan to offer businesses a $10,000 tax break per ex-offender they hire during the next two years was sent out of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee meeting Wednesday in a 2-1 vote.

Committee chair Supervisor Carmen Chu opposed the legislation. “That’s a very, very substantial amount of money,” Chu said of the $10,000 tax break. “I feel very uncomfortable with prioritizing this particular population over many needy populations and we can name so many of them.”

Chu said there are a number of people who are struggling to get by and find jobs in San Francisco, which has an unemployment rate of about 9 percent. “I know that there are many San Franciscans who are in need of jobs and I don’t feel comfortable prioritizing any population over another,” Chu said. “If we want to do an exemption for all San Franciscans for new jobs created I would be open to look at that.”

Sheriff-elect Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who introduced legislation, responded to Chu by saying: “My motivation is not one of sympathy. It is one of trying to implement a public safety preventative tactic for safe communities.”

The legislation was amended to offer the tax break only to hiring recent offenders, those who have been convicted of a felony and released within the last three years.

The full Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the legislation Tuesday.

Mirkarimi’s proposal was supported on the committee by Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods. “I know in District 6 there are many ex-offenders that have challenges to employment and I think that it’s important for us to offer an inventive to employers,” Kim said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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