We’re preparing to ask San Francisco voters in June or November 2022 to continue the existing half-cent transportation sales tax and approve a new 30-year investment plan, also known as the Expenditure Plan. As with the prior two Expenditure Plans managed by the Transportation Authority, this new Expenditure Plan will determine how the Transportation Authority invests sales tax dollars to improve transportation across the city.
There are several reasons we are working on a new Expenditure Plan for the half-cent transportation sales tax:
- We’ve already delivered most of the major projects outlined in the current plan. (See how investments have benefited San Franciscans over the years.)
- Several programs dedicated to improvements like transit enhancements and buying new Muni buses and trains are running out of money.
- Sales tax provides an important source of funding for projects that can support the city’s pandemic recovery and maintain or create jobs.
- San Francisco has new and emerging transportation priorities that are being developed by our countywide plan update, the San Francisco Transportation Plan 2050.
- A new Expenditure Plan allows us to use sales tax as seed funding for planning and project development, and to serve as the local match needed to secure federal, state, and other grant funding.
The half-cent sales tax was first approved by San Francisco voters in 1989. Voters extended the half-cent sales tax in 2003 with the adoption of an Expenditure Plan, which is currently in place. Since then, the Transportation Authority has directed more than $1.9 billion in half-cent sales tax funding citywide. On average, every dollar of half-cent sales tax funding leverages an additional $4-$7 from federal, state, or other sources.
The half-cent sales tax generates about $110 million per year (pre-pandemic) and helps fund transportation projects large and small across the city. Major capital investments have included the purchase of new Muni buses and light rail vehicles, Salesforce Transit Center, the electrification of Caltrain (anticipated to be done in 2022), Muni Central Subway, and reconstructing Doyle Drive, now known as Presidio Parkway.
It also makes a big difference in people’s lives through smaller projects like traffic calming, street repaving projects, paratransit service for seniors and persons with disabilities, protected bicycle lanes, new and upgraded signals, and, during the pandemic, taxi rides home for essential workers.
Making Sure A New Plan Is Fair
Sales taxes have regressive aspects. We plan to continue some of the policies from the existing half-cent sales tax that help advance equity to mitigate the regressivity, including:
- Facilitating transparency and accountability in governance and administration, including reviewing all funding items with our Citizens Advisory Committee prior to consideration by the 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who sit as the Transportation Authority Board.
- Making a majority of the investments in transit and safety, which disproportionately benefit low-income San Franciscans.
- Engaging the public early, including low-income communities and communities of color, in shaping the new transportation expenditure plan.
As part of our Racial Equity Action Plan, we are using the Racial Equity Toolkit (created by the Government Alliance on Race & Equity) to operationalize equity throughout all aspects of this process. We are applying the equity lens provided by the toolkit, and will be making recommendations for both the Expenditure Plan development process and the Expenditure Plan itself.
Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee
The new expenditure plan effort will receive guidance from an Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee composed of neighborhood, business, advocacy, and community representatives. The committee, which is expected to meet this summer through the end of 2021, will have public meetings. The public will have the opportunity to attend and provide feedback at these meetings.