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San Francisco Supes Place CEO Tax, Affordable Housing Plan On Ballot

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Supervisor Matt Haney on Tuesday introduced a charter amendment to tax large San Francisco companies that pay their CEOs rates extremely higher than their average workers.

The Overpaid Executive Tax will be placed on the November 2020 ballot, asking voters whether to tax corporations that pay their CEOs 100 times more than their average worker a 0.1 percent surcharge on their annual business tax payment.

According to Haney, the higher the inequity, the higher the surcharge. The company of a top executive receiving 200 times the pay of an average worker would have to pay a 0.2 percent surcharge.

The tax would only apply to large companies and small businesses would be exempt entirely. The tax is modeled after a similar tax in Portland.

Haney estimates the surcharge could raise up to $140 million annually and the money could be used to hire thousands of nurses, doctors and frontline emergency responders, which he said are desperately needed in the city.

"We know that there are big companies in our city that absolutely can pay their fair share. There are large companies who pay their executives multi-million dollar salaries at the same time as they short their own workers," Haney said during a news conference ahead of the Board of Supervisors meeting.

"Inequality in our city and in our country has skyrocketed over the last number of years. In the last 30 years, executive salaries in the U.S. have skyrocketed by 940 percent, while regular worker salaries have grown by just 11 percent." Haney said.

Haney's measure will need a simple majority to pass.

During Tuesday's supervisors meeting, Supervisor Gordon Mar introduced two ballot measures for the November 2020 election.

One measure, the Public Health Emergency Leave measure, would permanently extend an emergency ordinance passed by supervisors back in April that grants some 200,000 city workers two weeks of paid leave during health crises.

The benefit would be extended to employees at companies with 500 or more employees and could be used by workers who are sick, need to care for a sick person, or if they're part of a vulnerable population.

The second ballot measure Mar introduced would ask voters whether to restore the 1.5 percent Stock Compensation Tax rate public companies pay on stock-based compensation. The rate is the same that companies paid prior to a series of policies enacted by the city in 2011 that offered tax breaks for big tech companies.

According to Mar, if approved by voters, the measure would raise between $50 million and $150 million annually.

The measure would need a simple majority to pass.

Also, during Tuesday's supervisors meeting, Supervisor Dean Preston introduced a ballot measure that would authorize the city to build 10,000 units of permanently affordable housing. The measure calls for municipally-owned housing by carving out a local exception to Article 34 of the California Constitution.

According to Preston, the constitutional amendment passed in 1950 aimed to enforce segregation policies by prohibiting the creation of public housing without voter approval.

"This is a significant step towards dismantling racist barriers to affordable housing," Preston said. "Article 34 is a relic that, like Confederate flags, needs to be thrown into the dustbin of history."

Preston's measure would need just a simple majority to pass.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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