hiring.jpgA proposal offering a tax break for companies in San Francisco that hire ex-felons was narrowly voted down by the Board of Supervisors today.

The board voted 6-5 against the legislation, authored by Supervisor and sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi, which proposed a roughly $10,000 tax break on a San Francisco employer’s total payroll tax bill for each ex-felon they hire.

Mirkarimi said the proposal would help to reduce the repeat offender rate in San Francisco and save what he said can run up to a $50,000 annual cost per inmate to the city.

He acknowledged that the legislation was controversial because it assisted “a very unpopular constituency,” and indeed, many supervisors spoke strongly against it.

Supervisor Mark Farrell called the proposal “a slap in the face of the tens of thousands of San Franciscans waking up every day looking for work” who would not be eligible for the tax break.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said while he has previously been in favor of tax exemptions, those were in favor of a particular industry like biotechnology or neighborhood like Mid-Market.

“What’s unique about this legislation … is it’s identifying a class of citizens as more important than the others.”

Although Supervisor Malia Cohen proposed sending the legislation back to a board committee and offered to take ownership of it once Mirkarimi leaves the board and is sworn in as sheriff in January, supervisors decided to vote on it and it failed by the narrow margin.

Mirkarimi said, “I hope this issue does not die here” and encouraged the board to come up with other creative ways to reduce recidivism and raise revenue to accommodate the increasing number of offenders the city has to handle under the state’s new realignment law.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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