What your company is going to say about Prop C

Prop C is an opportunity for San Francisco to do right by our unhoused neighbors. It’s a balanced, thoughtful bill that funds housing and supportive services for unhoused folks in SF, paid for by a tax on companies’ gross business revenue over $50 million of on average 0.5%. And remember: these are the same companies that just got a 14% tax cut from the Trump administration. Prop C’s main opposition comes from a handful of companies who are making money hand over fist in SF: Lyft, Stripe, Square, Charles Schwab, Macy’s, and Visa have all donated money, as have individual billionaires and the Chamber of Commerce.

We’ve heard that some of these companies are going to have all-hands meetings this week where CEOs and founders will justify their opposition to Prop C. Here are some talking points that these companies are likely to trot out – and rebuttals that employees can use to push back.

“It has no plan”

  • Prop C has a plan. A detailed, comprehensive plan that addresses the homelessness crisis from multiple angles: housing, temporary shelters, mental health and substance abuse treatment, hygiene and sanitation, and prevention. There is literally a page on the Yes on C website called “The Plan” that spells all of this out in great detail.

“We can’t throw money at the problem — we already spend too much on homelessness”

  • Mass homelessness exploded — in San Francisco and across the country — in the early 1980s because of massive funding cuts to HUD’s affordable housing programs. We’re making up for years of disinvestment.
  • London Breed had the city’s budget analyst audit homeless services in 2016. One of their recommendations was to expand existing housing programs.
  • The city’s housing and homelessness programs are already keeping 10,000+ people off of the streets (through temporary shelter and permanent housing) – we should do more of what’s working.

“The mayor deserves a chance to tackle the problem”

  • The mayor has recommended some of the same programs that are funded in Prop C, like opening 1,000 new shelter beds, but she has no plan to pay for them. In fact, she recently called Marc Benioff to ask for an $8M donation to fund a shelter. She knows more funding is needed, but she also knows that siding with large corporations and wealthy donors like Ron Conway against Prop C will pay dividends for her political career.

“The tax is unfair. Why should we pay the same tax rate as companies 2-10x bigger than us”

  • Prop C follows the same gross receipts tax structure that was put in place in 2012 under Prop E with broad support from the tech industry and pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce. Prop C taxes a tiny percentage (less than 0.7%) of revenue. Square chose to locate its HQ in San Francisco in 2013 under this supposedly unfair gross receipts tax system.

“Leave policy decisions to experts at the company. You wouldn’t want us to take a vote of every decision you make at work, right?”

  • First off, my co-workers are really smart, that’s why you hired us. I bet if you asked more people we would make better decisions.
  • But political donations are different from other decisions we make at work. Being an engaged citizen is my responsibility, and by participating in the political process on my behalf without my consent, my boss has deprived me of the agency I am entitled to as a citizen. That is why we demand that my co-workers and I be consulted *before* a donation is made, rather than *explained to* after.

“The ‘gross receipts tax’ is a bad way to fund this”

  • The gross receipts tax was introduced by Prop E in 2012, with the overwhelming support of the business community. Many of those same businesses oppose Prop C not because the gross receipts tax is unfair, but because they don’t want to pay their fair share.

“This will cost jobs in San Francisco”

  • According to analysis from the city’s economist at the Office of Economic Analysis, Prop C’s impact on job loss will be minimal: 725 to 875 jobs over the next 20 years.
  • Given that more than 450,000 San Franciscans are currently employed, this number is nothing more than a rounding error. That many jobs are created and lost every few weeks in the city, due to thousands of factors that have nothing to do with taxes.
  • And more businesses are likely to want to work in SF if we’re able to solve the homelessness crisis (think about the conferences that pulled out of the Moscone Center).

“There’s no accountability”

  • There is an oversight committee incorporated into the plan for Prop C
  • The mayor’s office can conduct an audit at any time
  • There’s a year-long lag period where the money accrues — if desired, mayor’s office could do yet another audit