Mayor still considering business license fee
to help fund universal health care access
Mayor Newsom explains his opposition to increased sales tax for
universal health care access funding, his ongoing consideration
of raising license fees for all San Francisco businesses to mitigate
impact on businesses targeted for mandated contribution, and his
insistence that a mandate on employers is necessary.
By Pat Murphy
July 7, 2006
Mayor Newsom today did not rule out an increase in City business
license fees to help pay for universal health care access in San
However, any funding mechanism must include a mandate on employers
to increase the number of workers covered, the mayor told the
Newsom ruled out an increase in local sales tax to generate health
care access funding as voter approval is implausible, he added.
Business leaders continue to lobby for
broad based funding, such as a hike on licenses for all businesses
in San Francisco or sales tax increase, to mitigate impact on
small to mid-size businesses targeted by a current funding mandate
Newsom made the remarks following an 11:45 a.m. City Hall press
conference with State Senator Carole Migden encouraging adoption
of older children.
Asked specifically if he had ruled out business license hikes,
Newsom responded, "I'm open to all suggestions. A mandate
is fundamental, however."
He described proposed sales tax increase as unrealistic.
"The sales tax is unrealistic based on the rejection of
the voters just a couple of years ago on a sales tax measure which
had support from the business community and labor," stated
"I think we just need to temper our enthusiasm for taxes
in this City based upon reality that people of this City tend
not to be pro-tax.
"That's why we barely got 45% of the vote for a sales tax
increase a couple of years ago in a progressive, liberal town
where we were facing the prospects of closing down rec centers
on Mondays which we ultimately had to do because that tax measure
did not pass."
Newsom explained his commitment to a mandate on targeted business
as essential to create a floor for minimum employer contribution.
"If businesses don't have a floor of commitment then they
drop their more costly health insurance and they then dump or
crowd out (employees with expensive health care needs) which ultimately
increases the number of uninsured San Franciscans... and then
the economics of the health access plan completely fall apart.
"This cannot ultimately succeed the way we want it to succeed
without a mandate," Newsom told the Sentinel.
The mayor praised Supervisor Tom Ammiano for willingness to negotiate.
Ammiano authored mandated funding legislation which will be heard
before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. Prior to
that meeting, the Budget and Finance Committee will meet at 10:00
a.m. to merge the Ammiano plan and Newsom's universal health access
program into single legislation.
"No one has been more amenable than the sponsor of the legislation,
Supervisor Tom Ammiano, to his credit," Newsom reported.
"The question is does it hit 20 employees or more or 50
employees or more? Does it hit part-time employees after just
90 days? Does it hit people with just a 20-hour work week? Does
it have a cap in terms of the inflationary costs? Does it have
considerations as relates to union negotiated benefits? Does it
deal with the spouse that is providing the health insurance for
someone already within the system - do you have to in essence
provide double coverage?"
Ammiano is out of town this week and returns Monday for continued
talks with Newsom.