A guest op-ed by Darrell Peeden – Boardmember, Moreno Valley Unified School District
The Moreno Valley City Council wants to increase our sales tax to pay the warehouse developers bills – again.
The sales tax increase would be on the November 2020 ballot. The city council is advocating for this tax by claiming they will raise $20 million to pay for roads, more police officers and other infrastructure. This proposed sales tax is irresponsible and unnecessary; forcing families to foot the bill for multi-millionaires who continue to get free passes signed, sealed and hand-delivered by the Moreno Valley City Council. They damage our roads with heavy-duty diesel trucks (you know, the trucks that make us all late to work everyday,) pollute our air and decrease local property value mile-by-mile. And we pay for it – with our time, health and money.
How can we expect our kids to stay close to home after they graduate? Warehouse developers have taken over — leaving Moreno Valley with lower wages, fewer opportunities and fewer reasons for our kids to work and raise their families here. They’re going to remember all the days they couldn’t go outside at recess because the air was too dangerous. It would be more surprising if they chose to stay, and it doesn’t feel good to say that.
So, why should we continue to make life easier for the millionaires that are ruining our city and running off our kids? Instead of making us pay for the damage caused by warehouse developers and companies that lease their facilities, a better idea would be to increase their taxes for once. If they all paid a parcel tax of $0.35 a square foot, we could raise over $20 million a year. This warehouse tax would be applied to industrial/warehouse zoned property speculation and warehouses that are currently in operation; bringing lease rates close to what is being paid in Los Angeles. Imagine what we could do with $20 million dedicated to our most important resource – our children.
The Press Enterprise recently published an article showing Inland Empire wages are the lowest among big U.S. Counties. The reason why is no surprise. The IE’s role as the warehouse and distribution hub for manufacturers and shippers has destroyed economic and wage growth in our communities. Irresponsible and selfish choices made by our city council continue to put our community last — causing low wages, poor air quality, lack of resources for adequate roads, decreased public safety and stalled quality of life projects. A warehouse tax placed on the November 2020 ballot by the Moreno Valley School District would set a standard in Moreno Valley. Let’s tell corporations and warehouse developers in Moreno Valley that it’s time to pay their bills.
A warehouse tax is not just good public policy – it’s a small first step towards fairness and will provide additional resources for public education. Our school district could implement bold, new policies that would increase student achievement, increase pay for teachers and classified staff, increase STEAM programs and support a local purchase program that will enable small businesses to contract with the school district. If those businesses don’t exist, we could provide resources to help them get started. We could experiment with new ideas and set the standard for what it means to truly invest in our kids by developing a universal basic income experiment to uplift students living in poverty – giving these families a no-strings attached $1,000 a month. This experiment would lift tens of thousands of students out of poverty and would change their lives forever. With an extra $20 million a year, the possibilities are endless.
The quality of our public education system will determine the success of Moreno Valley. If we want to enhance our quality of life, we must demand these corporations and warehouse developers pay their fair share. There is no excuse for taxpayers in Moreno Valley to be forced to continue giving millions of dollars away in tax incentives, and now increasing our sales tax, to benefit the same companies that only offer low-wage jobs. We can do better. It’s time they pay their fair share.
As a Moreno Valley Unified School Board Member, I support a warehouse tax – not a sales tax.