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Editorial: Unhelpful SMCo. grand-standing on jet fuel tax

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  • 8/22 SF Examiner
    Published Monday, August 22, 2005, in the San Francisco Examiner Editorial Jet-fuel vote plays to the crowd It was a counterproductive display of grandstanding
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 23, 2005
      Published Monday, August 22, 2005, in the San Francisco Examiner


      Jet-fuel vote plays to the crowd

      It was a counterproductive display of grandstanding last week when a
      majority of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted to oppose
      a bill that would restore to local counties half of the $3 million in
      SFO jet-fuel tax revenues Oakland captured in 2002.

      Assembly bill 451 by Leland Yee, the Democratic speaker pro tempore of
      the state Assembly who represents parts of San Francisco and San Mateo
      County, is now the Peninsula's only realistic chance to get more money
      from these taxes on fuel sales to United Airlines. And the
      supervisors' 3-2 vote to oppose this legislation is unlikely to make
      any make any practical impact on whether it passes.

      So why would San Mateo County officials stand in the way of the best
      deal their constituents can expect to get? Obviously, the majority
      vote of Supervisors Jerry Hill, Adrienne Tissier and Rose Jacobs
      Gibson is playing well to these supervisors' base in the county.

      But we agree instead with the compromise-minded minority position of
      Supervisors Rich Gordon and Mark Church. "At least we can bring
      something back to the county while we continue to fight," Gordon said.
      San Mateo County has filed an appeal with the state Board of
      Equalization to get all the taxes, but that is considered a long shot.

      Historically, law changes forced San Mateo County and San Francisco to
      split SFO jet-fuel sales taxes four years before Oakland plucked all
      the money for itself. That city persuaded United to log all its fuel
      purchases through Oakland, in part by offering the airline a 65
      percent tax rebate.

      The fact is that San Mateo County already has been defeated in its
      best shot at regaining 100 percent of the SFO United jet fuel taxes
      via the Legislature. Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-San Mateo, lost twice
      when he introduced bills in two consecutive years to bring all the
      cash back to the Peninsula.

      Yee also introduced bills in two consecutive years to return the 50-50
      split between San Mateo County, which surrounds the airport, and San
      Francisco, which owns it. Last year's version was vetoed by
      Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said he wanted to know how ending
      Oakland's rebate would affect the struggling United Airlines. A
      hearing on that impact was held earlier this year in Los Angeles,
      where LAX airport is also fighting to get back its jet fuel taxes from
      Oakland. This time, AB 451 passed the Assembly 55-13 and Yee is
      confident he has the votes to pass it in the Senate again.

      The three supervisors have said their Aug. 16 vote was a matter of
      making a stand on principle. But political reality tends to be about
      getting only part of what you want. We wish the San Mateo County
      Board had recognized a good opportunity and joined the strong regional
      coalition now backing Yee's bill.
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