No on Q and R

John Hrabe is communications director for the Young Republican Federation of Sacramento and executive director for the statewide Young Republican Federation

Professional basketball represents the epitome of competition, where nothing more than athletic finesse and brute strength determines the winner and loser of each contest. Ironically, owners of the Sacramento Kings, a sports franchise built on athletic competition, are asking Sacramento County voters to approve two measures antithetical to economic competition. In the case of Measures Q and R, the stakes are much greater than which teams make the playoffs.

Measures Q and R will raise county sales taxes by $1.2 billion over the next 15 years and provide $500 million in corporate welfare to the Maloof family. Under Measures Q and R, purchases in Sacramento County will cost more: higher gas prices—even a higher-priced hot dog and soda at the new arena.

The Young Republican Federation of Sacramento is proud to oppose Measures Q and R because they contradict our Republican principles of limited government and free-market capitalism. As a party that professes free-market principles and individual responsibility, we must oppose measures that raise taxes to provide corporate handouts.

Movie theaters, bowling alleys, comedy clubs, bars, restaurants—all compete with the Kings for the same entertainment dollars in every family’s budget. Subsidizing a new arena punishes these local businesses twice.

First, these businesses lose revenue from a higher tax burden. Then, the businesses’ tax dollars are put to work against them by subsidizing their competitor’s new venue.

Additionally, no economic study has proven that sports arenas make a positive economic contribution to their region. Respected economist Allen Sanderson of the University of Chicago said it best: “If you want to inject money into a local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest in a new ballpark.”

Any claim of an economic benefit relies on the Kings remaining here in Sacramento—a guarantee Measures Q and R never make. As evidenced by the Maloofs’ departure from negotiations over parking revenue and the arena’s location, Sacramento faces a very real possibility that the county could build a new arena with no professional basketball team to play in it.

Just as the Kings have thrived in competition, so too will Sacramento’s economy—if left to a competitive and free market.