San Francisco

San Francisco Wants To Force CEOs To Pay for a Citywide Free Mental Health Care Program

The new tax won't come close to fulfilling the steep funding needs of Mental Health SF

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San Francisco politicians want to offer tax-funded mental health care to all city residents, and they're expecting companies with well-paid CEOs to foot the bill.

On June 11, six of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors introduced a motion to put a new tax on "disproportionate executive pay" before San Francisco voters in November. Companies that pay their chief executives 100 times the median compensation of their employees would pay an additional .1 percent tax on gross receipts, in addition to the .3 to 1.3 percent gross receipts taxes they currently pay. The tax will increase incrementally to an additional .2 percent for firms that pay their chief executives 200 times their company's median employee compensation. The new tax would cap out at .6 percent for companies with chief executives who earn 600 times the company's median employee compensation.

This tax would fund another program slated to appear on the ballot in November, called Mental Health SF, which "will create a 24 hour, 7-day-a week" mental health services system "that will offer immediate care to any San Franciscan who needs it," said Supervisor Hillary Ronen when she first floated the policy in late May.

"We have a crisis of people who are severely addicted to drugs and that have severe mental health illnesses that are wandering the street and that desperately need help," Ronen said in an interview with KQED.

To be placed on the ballot, both proposals need support from at least six of the board's 11 supervisors. Both measures have that support, and the Board of Supervisors is expected to vote to place them on the November 2019 ballot by the end of July. The CEO tax question would require two-thirds support from San Francisco voters to pass because it is for designated spending. The Mental Health SF question requires only a simple majority of voter approval to pass.

If the mental health initiative passes and the tax fails, the city would likely need to find another way to fund the program.  

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, Ronen and fellow Supervisor Matt Haney said they would try to get more money from the state if the CEO tax does not pay for the mental health funding. 

They might need to do that anyway, as the revenue from the CEO tax would likely not cover the total cost of Mental Health SF.

The city's Public Health Department estimates that the Mental Health SF proposal will cost between $244 million and $1.1 billion annually, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Those estimates, the Chronicle notes, don't include the $278 million required to build or establish a new mental health drop-in center that the program would require. Meanwhile, the CEO tax is estimated to only bring in $140 million, according to the city controller's officeSan Francisco currently spends $370 million per year on mental health services, according to USA Today. 

In addition to the funding problems, there's also the question of who would be eligible for publicly funded care. "Among the many questions that seemed to trip [Ronen and Haney] up during a Monday meeting with our editorial board: Who, exactly, would qualify for the free care? What would be the residency requirement?" the Chronicle editorial noted.

Lastly, the new CEO tax being put forward to fund this proposal could well see highly nimble corporations choose to leave the city or reduce their presence there, warns Jared Walczak of the Tax Foundation.

Corporations "might well reduce their footprint in the city of the tax burden grows too onerous," Walczak. "Many businesses clearly want to be in San Francisco but as the diffusion of tech clusters demonstrates, there are limits."

In the last couple of years, San Francisco has seen companies leave to open up headquarters in places like Salt Lake City and Austin—places that have much friendlier business taxes and lower costs of living.

What's more, San Francisco voters passed the largest tax increase in city history just last November. Raising taxes again could drive away businesses and shrink the tax base, thereby reducing revenue and making it difficult to pay for existing programs, much less new ones.

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  1. can’t the chief executives just classify themselves differently?

    >>>”might well reduce their footprint in the city of the tax burden grows too onerous,” Walczak.

    city of the tax burden indeed.

    1. “ proposal will cost between $244 million and $1.1 billion annually, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Those estimates, the Chronicle notes, don’t include the $278 million required to build ”

      When your range is that large, using more than 1 significant digit is just like a slap in the face at tax payers. As if it’s going to be anywhere close to $278 million! Ha.

      1. I did not mean for my comment to be a reply but a top level comment.

  2. Well, it’s too bad for those executives that the corporate headquarters can’t just be moved into a storefront in Reno for tax purposes.

    1. San Mateo County, even.

    2. See the Reason story on Gilbert Hyatt to see how easy this is in CA. I’d link but Reason webpage sucks.

  3. I’m sure liberals like Zuckerberg, Bezos and other wealth liberals in Turd Town wouldn’t mind spending 100 to 200 million dollars out of their own pocket to help the homeless.
    After all, these limousine liberals are so kind, compassionate and generous that they would be more than willing to give 95% of their ill-gotten gains from the corrupt and nefarious capitalist system that made them so wealthy in the first place.
    So be rest assured, these progressive multi-millionaires and multi-millionaires are more than willing to give almost their entire fortunes to a bunch of bureaucrats, politicians and their cronies to make Turd Town a safe and welcoming sanctuary for the less fortunate.
    (Blows a bowel laughing.)

    1. Zuckerberg lives in Palo Alto, and Bezos lives in the Seattle area.

      No sane rich person would have an address in SF.

      1. Actually, Zuckerberg has a very nice home in SF; 21st St at the top of the hill, I believe.
        Whether he’s there often enough to qualify as ‘residence’ is an issue the BoS will make sure to include in writing this bit of farce.

  4. “that will offer immediate care to any San Franciscan who needs it,”

    The Board of Supervisors being the first in line?

    1. “The Board of Supervisors being the first in line?”

      Only if it’s for involuntary commitment.

  5. Well, it is San Francisco. At least you have to give them credit for having their priorities in order.

    1. Yes, but what order?

  6. If any city needs universal mental health care, SFC certainly is on the short list.

    But isn’t there some basic rule of economics that says the best way to encourage a certain human behavior is to throw money at it?

    1. Yes, I am an asshole… I have bribed some shrinks to explain that I have a “personality disorder” instead. So whenever I act like an asshole, I can whine and moan to the courts, and they will let me off!!! Then the taxpayer will pony up, and I will go and see my fave shrink-therapist-recipient-of-my-rivers-of-tears-of-self-pity… And I will steer the taxpayer monies to my fave uncle-shrink!!! He’ll therapueutricize my assholeishness, ooops, I mean, my “personality disorder”!!! He’ll give me a kickback, and we’ll laugh all of the way to the bank!

      Also, for all of you who believe everyone who acts like an asshole has a “mental problem” that can be properly treated by a shrink or therapist, that they should be forced to get Obama-care-mandated, taxpayer-funded drug addiction (or other) “therapy” from the likes of “Chris Bathum”, see http://www.malibutimes.com/news/article_62b16ee4-2246-11e8-b456-1f240b332af0.html ,
      Malibu ‘Rehab Mogul’ Guilty on 31 Criminal Counts
      Christopher Bathum’s rap sheet includes a long list of charges, from fraud to forcible rape.

      Your tax and health-insurance money at work!!!

      1. In case I am too long-winded and not clear above… What I am saying is, if you are an asshole and want to NOT be an asshole (be cured of your “personality disorder”), then good on you, you recognize your problems; that is a LARGE part of the solution! But be VERY careful when you go to the Government-Almighty-certified “therapists”… Some significant number of them may be even bigger assholes than you are!!! (“Physician, heal thyself!!!!”) And NEVER take ANY kind of therapy from Tulpa, or from Tulpa’s head voices!!!

      2. “Yes, I am an asshole”

        Agreed. You should just stop there. It covers any comment you will ever make.

        1. Have you been getting your “therapy” from the likes of “Chris Bathum”, see http://www.malibutimes.com/news/article_62b16ee4-2246-11e8-b456-1f240b332af0.html ?

          1. Sorry I have no need for therapy. Though I suggest civil commitment to a long term mental health facility for you.

  7. Other than giving liberals someone to talk to, how do they think this would help.

    So someone in serious need of MH treatment receives a Dx as schizophrenic. The provider decides to put the patient on a monthly Haldol Dec injection. Who pays for the medicine? If they are not insured, and SF does not, then you would have a bunch of people seeing a psych provider but can’t afford the treatment.

    1. They tax someone else the woke don’t like. I’d say 2nd Amendment supporters, but any left in S.F. are probably already being treated for their mental illness, funded by the rich guy tax.

  8. I know it doesn’t come up often, but seeing as it’s still technically on the books, can someone please make a concerted legal case for enforcing the Communist Control Act? I have a feeling it’s going to be very useful in the next 25 years at the pace we’re going.

    1. I have bribed some shrinks to explain that I have a “personality disorder” instead. So whenever I act like an asshole, I can whine and moan to the courts, and they will let me off!!! Then the taxpayer will pony up, and I will go and see my fave shrink-therapist-recipient-of-my-rivers-of-tears-of-self-pity… And I will steer the taxpayer monies to my fave uncle-shrink!!! He’ll therapueutricize my assholeishness, ooops, I mean, my “personality disorder”!!! He’ll give me a kickback, and we’ll laugh all of the way to the bank! krogerfeedback

  9. “We have a crisis of people who are severely addicted to drugs and that have severe mental health illnesses that are wandering the street and that desperately need help,” Ronen said in an interview with KQED.”

    Not to mention the similarly-afflicted ones sitting in the chambers of the board of supes.

  10. And:
    “…”will create a 24 hour, 7-day-a week” mental health services system “that will offer immediate care to any San Franciscan who needs it,”…”

    I’m guessing a staff of thousands to provide this “immediate care”, or more accurately, I’m guessing Ronen doesn’t have a fucking idea what she’s yapping on about.

    1. How do they intend to offer these services to homeless drug addicts, most of whom are paranoid about anything remotely connected to the government.

      Are they planning on a squad or three of men in white coats, armed with tranquilizer guns?

      1. Excellent point.

        This has always been the fatal flaw of Progressivism. The Progressives (I speak of the original variety) were convinced of the rightness of their beliefs and intentions which were founded on the notion that the source of progress (as they defined it) were the enlightenment, Anglo-Saxon, christian western civilization values (in essence the Protestant work ethic).

        They simply could not believe that anyone could object to their efforts to “improve” everyone by “teaching out the geechie”, “killing the Indian to save the man”, “depapyfying” the southern European immigrants with public education along with whatever they thought was appropriate to “improve” the Jews, Poles and Slavs that had come from Eastern Europe and Russia.

        Today’s “Progressives” (still pretty much the same upper and upper-middle class twits as the originals) cannot conceive of any objections to their programs. They are absolutely shocked that anyone would reject there offers to “help and improve.”

  11. To be fair this should apply to all employees who earn more than 100 times the lowest paid employee. Especially the Warriors, 49ers, and Giants.

    1. CA already has a ‘millionaire surtax’; most athletes “live” at an out of state address.

      1. Doesn’t matter. They tax you on where you earn the money. If you’re a pro athlete in California, at least half your income is earned in-state. But the salary cap is the same nationwide, so players have an incentive to play in Texas or Florida.

  12. Here’s the problem. The city of San Francisco is an area less than eight miles long at the end of a peninsula less than eight miles wide. There is no room for it to expand. Even if it wanted to “create urban (or suburban) sprawl” it can’t. The city is entirely restained geographically from expanding its geographical size.

    It is also not able to overcome the fact that it is a singularly desirable place to live, on a par with Sydney Harbour, Monaco (along with a few adjacent town in the south of France), Hawai’i and any other locations that fit the super definition of “location, location, location…

    I don’t know what can be done about “the cost of housing” in SF, except to say that it will always be high for the reasons indicated above. I very much doubt that the geographical area within the city limits of the city of San Francisco can ever conventionally house the people who are now living on the streets of the city.

    Whatever is done with density, planning etc in SF there are way more people that want to live on the tip of that peninsula than there are who can be accommodated in conventional housing* (whatever that means).

    *which leaves up with a solution that involves something other than the conventional housing that planners are providing for. Or, a way to stop all of the undesirables from wanting to live on the tip of that particular peninsula.

    1. I agree 100%; it is a lovely place to live and there will always be more people who want to live here than can be accommodated under even the best of circumstances.
      But there are two options which the city government could adopt to reduce the load:
      1) Stop rewarding bums for showing up here.
      2) Reduce the building regulations which both slow (or stop) construction and make it more expensive.
      Other than that, there is no “housing crisis”: that is an invention of lefty ignoramuses who assume people should be able to live where they please regardless of costs.
      SF is an expensive place to live, but every home that hits the market sells; there is no ‘housing crisis’.

    2. They could allow taller apartment buildings, but then those would cast too much shade on parks and historic laundromats and what not.

    3. Nothing can really be done about the cost of housing in San Francisco, or anywhere along the coast from there down to San Diego, without the “Lex Luthor Solution”.

      1. Otisburg? It’s a little bitty place.

  13. Way to get companies to leave town and set up shop in Silicon Valley instead.

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  15. Gosh, is there any problem that soaking the rich with new taxes can’t solve?

    1. Insufficient rich people to tax?

  16. Would Amazon or Berkshire-Hathaway be affected by this tax? Both famously pay their CEOs a small salary, just over $100,000.

    Buffett and Bezos are rich because of their ownership of appreciated shares acquired when they were worth an awfully lower price.

    1. And yes, I know they don’t live there. I’m asking a structural question about the proposed tax and its futility.

  17. […] San Francisco Wants to Force CEOs to Pay for Free Mental Health Care Program [Reason]A proposed “CEO tax” would draw funding for a citywide mental health program from “disproportionate executive pay.” The issue will be up for a vote in San Francisco in November. […]

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