How Proposed S.F. Tax Measures Could Affect Inequality


A California mail-in ballot in 2012. Creative Commons image by Flickr user Dianne Yee

Among more than a dozen ballot propositions that voters are deciding on in November, several are tax measures, including ones on businesses, property, and purchases. Many have components meant to reduce inequality or fund much-needed services. “Civic” talked with Donnie Charleston, director of public policy and advocacy for E Pluribus Unum, a nonprofit whose mission is to build a more just, equitable and inclusive South. Charleston offered an outside expert’s perspective on the tools local governments have to address income and racial inequities, and on some of the tax measures up for voter approval in San Francisco. 

“What we found with respect to the last recession is that we saw this huge emptying out of minority-owned businesses across the country. So, the question is, will we see the same thing with this crisis? In some respects, it’s not enough just to provide some type of an incentive or carve-out for industries that are hit hardest, kind of like this broad-swath provision, this idea that a rising tide will lift all boats. In this case, when we’re talking about businesses, it’s necessary to really look down beneath the surface level numbers and identify those industries and those specific business owners that are really hurting, that are less likely to survive.”

— Donnie Charleston

A segment from our radio show and podcast, “Civic.” Listen at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 102.5 FM in San Francisco, or online at, and subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify or Stitcher

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