Local reaction to emergency budget plan

November 6, 2008 6:46:14 PM PST
Raising the sales tax 1.5 cents will push the rates in most Bay Area counties to nearly 10 percent and 10.25 percent in Alameda County. So what is the reaction on the streets to the governor's emergency budget plan?

Ellen Adejobi opened an African arts and jewelry store 14 years ago in Oakland. Her business, Sankofa African Arts Store, dropped 60 percent in the last year. Yesterday, she made just $17.

"Even sometimes there is nothing. We make nothing and we go home," said Adejobi.

People in Oakland already pay 8.75 percent sales tax. The governor wants to boost that by 1.5 percent. In Oakland, that would bring the sales tax over 10 percent.

"If they increase it, it is going to be very hard for us to get a customer coming in to buy," said Adejobi.

Many Oakland residents we spoke with say they will buy less.

"I would stop going to a lot of the expensive stores," said Oakland resident Ladaysha Atkins.

"I basically buy the things I need. I can't even get the things I want anymore," said Oakland resident Nadia Guilford.

The governor wants to slash $4.5 billion in his emergency budget plan. Oakland city officials have already approved big cutbacks to balance their budget.

"Friday, actually the 14th, we're probably going to lay off 80 to 100 people," said veteran city councilman, Ignacio De La Fuente who wonders what more the state can take away. "They took $8.5 million from redevelopment in the last round."

Education lost $300 million in state funding this school year. The cuts for San Francisco schools totaled $20 million, but the city had a rainy day fund.

"The district was able to access that money in order to make up that shortfall this year, so we have a buffer for one year for these budget cuts," said San Francisco Schools spokesperson Gentle Blythe.

But there is no guarantee of a rainy day fund next school year.

As usual, Oakland's Fat Lady restaurant and bar were packed at lunchtime.

C.L. Estes has been a bartender for two decades. If the governor has his way, the alcohol tax will go up by five cents a drink. Estes says it will not matter.

"People drink when they have money. People drink when they don't have money."


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