Letter to the editor, Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2008

(Written as the public and legislative affairs director of Southern California Transit Advocates.)

Manuel Criollo of the Bus Riders Union says people will "fundamentally challenge" Measure R because they are having a hard time meeting their rent. In reality, a sales tax measure shifts the burden away from low-income people and toward those with a greater ability to pay.

The necessities of life that are by far the major part of a low-income person's budget -- groceries, rent and utilities -- are not subject to sales taxes. Items such as big-screen TVs and luxury cars, which are only affordable by those of greater income, are -- and come with a significant sales tax because of their price.

A low-income person who spends $200 a year on soap, paper towels and clothes will pay an extra $1 a year in sales tax under Measure R. Someone who buys a $45,000 car will pay an extra $225 in sales tax just on that purchase.

The argument that Measure R is unfair to low-income people simply does not stand up to the numbers.

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