New Caltrain tax poison pill option would spend 35% of funding on Caltrain for up to 2 years

Did you just say “what”? This afternoon, Mayor Sam Liccardo wrote a post describing a new version of the Caltrain funding ballot measure that would spend a little over a third of the revenue to run Caltrain, for up to the first two years, and would put the rest of the funding in an escrow account, pending a supermajority vote of the Caltrain board, and depending on changes to the governance of the agency.

A recent poll showed that a large majority of people would support a ballot measure funding Caltrain – 70% would vote for it with a good campaign.

But if a measure was billed as funding Caltrain service, but only contributed 35% of the funding for that purpose, for up to the first 2 years, and could only spend the rest of the money on Caltrain based on complicated conditions – how many voters would vote for it? We don’t think very many. We don’t think it would pass. This is a proposal to prevent a ballot measure, not to pass one.

Also, the SB797 legislation that authorized the Caltrain tax is very short and clear that the is to be used to fund Caltrain. Because this measure would not clearly do that, it doesn’t appear legal. 

If you want Caltrain to continue, please send a note to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors letting them know that this version won’t fund Caltrain, and you want them to support a clean version of the ballot measure that does fund Caltrain.  Please customize the letter to say that, we’ll get you updated tools in the morning.