It looks like giving away money is tougher than one would think. Last March, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure H. It levied a quarter–cent homeless sales tax. This is not a tax on the homeless, unless they’re shopping, it’s a sales tax on everyone else to support the homeless.
A quarter–cent may not sound like much money, but when applied to an economy like that found in Los Angeles, you’re talking real money. The tax is projected to generate $355 million during the first year it’s in effect. That’s an incredible amount of money.
The average person would be forgiven if he thought Los Angeles might run out of homeless before it’s all spent. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. The question is becoming, will the panel of 50(!) in charge of spending make any decisions before the May 10 deadline when the group is supposed to deliver a three year plan?
To date, this herd of advocates has had three of four scheduled meetings, according to the Los Angeles Times. So far they’ve come up with 21 different spending strategies. These strategies include "better street outreach to more rental subsidies" and agreement appears to be difficult due to "the complexity of funding sources, philosophical nuances and strong personalities."
With the deadline looming, the chairman of the group suggested an all day meeting for May 4. But, even these caring folks drew the line at spending that much time until the chairman threw in the not-proverbial–in–this–instance "free lunch."
The civilians on the panel were something of a duke’s mixture. A former homeless person kept running-on about where was the "lived experience" in the proposed plans. Another wanted to engage local government instead of just depending on them to collect the tax. And another bureaucracy archeologist wanted to know where the research was on a plan she devised a decade ago that wasn’t used because of funding constraints.
But before you start criticizing panel members for lack of agreement and suggest they defer to elected officials and county experts, you should know the politicians were even worse.
The preliminary wish list they were working on was a typical free tax money spendingpalooza. In typical politician-handing-out-goodies-fashion the "experts" want to spend $615 million in the third year. This is almost double what the tax is expected to raise.
I’m reasonably sure some sort of agreement will be reached by the spending deadline, because tax dollars always disappear. What won’t disappear is the homeless problem. By spending what amounts to a fortune on the homeless I’m certain that Los Angeles County will only be attracting more homeless.
No doubt lured by a combination of the weather and frequent showers of money.
Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.