Property Tax Wrong Way To Finance Los Angeles County’s Emergency Care System, Editorial Says
A proposed ballot initiative that would raise property taxes in Los Angeles County to pay for county trauma centers is "well intended" but "poorly planned," a Long Beach Press-Telegram editorial states (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 8/1). The measure, proposed by county Board of Supervisors Chair Zev Yaroslavsky, would raise property taxes by three cents per square foot, an average of $42 per property per year. The measure also would establish a three-cent per square foot tax on structural improvements; a half-cent per square foot tax on parking improvements; and a tenth of a cent per square foot tax on agricultural, vacant or similar land (California Healthline, 7/26). The tax is expected to raise $168 million, but the editorial points out that the funding shortfall in the county's health care system is "several times that much." The editorial adds that "there is no guarantee" the revenue from the tax would be used to support the county's emergency care system, there is no sunset clause on the initiative and there is "no assurance that the tax would be rescinded if the money becomes available some other way." The editorial suggests that state and federal governments should pay for the county's emergency care system because the state "absconded with much of the counties' property taxes" several years ago, and the federal government's "unworkable immigration policies are what created an unsupportable burden on the county's health system." The editorial suggests that if additional taxes are necessary to finance health care, a sales tax "would make more sense" than a property tax. But imposing any tax to pay for the county health system is "premature," the editorial states, concluding, "There is more restructuring to be done, and there is more work to be done in prying money out of the state and federal governments, cash-strapped as they may be" (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 8/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.