Written by George Runner and Fiona Ma

In early May, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik unfairly criticized a State Board of Equalization-supported proposal to simplify property tax assessment of airline property in California. As elected Board members and former legislators, we write to set the record straight.

Senate Bill 661, authored by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), would centralize property tax assessment of commercial airline property, ending a confusing and complicated county-by-county system that has spawned years of legal disputes. It would reduce costs and improve efficiency for state and local government, making California more friendly to a sector that helps support a million jobs and generates $154 billion in economic activity in our state.

Although modest, these changes are common sense tax reforms that would bring California’s system in line with most other states that impose property tax on commercial aircraft.

It may be disappointing news for travelers who pay high airline ticket prices, but SB 661 won’t change what’s taxable and what isn’t. That’s already settled law. This measure simply changes who assesses the value of airline property.

Hiltzik charges the airline industry is “disingenuous” and really just after a big tax break. If that’s the case, they’re out of luck. The Board of Equalization doesn’t hand out tax breaks. We implement and uphold the laws passed by the Legislature, which includes the methodology for the assessment of commercial aircraft. If for some reason we didn’t, the courts would step in to ensure we do.

Good ideas are rarely adopted immediately, yet Hiltzik points to past legislative efforts as if to prove that further reforms are unnecessary. The truth is, centralized assessments were never rejected outright. Instead, a compromise resulted in the current “lead county” system that solved a few problems, but left others unresolved. In fact, two prior authors of legislation on this issue serve on the Board of Equalization and support SB 661.
If the airplane had been invented sooner, we suspect the Board would already have direct responsibility for assessing aircraft, given the industry’s similarities to railroads and utilities. It just makes sense.

Hiltzik’s most glaring omission may be his failure to acknowledge the Board of Equalization’s experience and expertise in property tax assessments and administration. Established in the 19th century to address property tax inequities among counties, the Board is charged with regulating county assessment practices, equalizing ratios, and assessing railroad and utility properties.

In fact, the Board wrote the regulations for the current system of aircraft property tax assessment and provides ongoing guidance and oversight of assessors regarding these matters. By law, the Board even specifies the time period when aircraft assessments will be measured. We’re no strangers to this issue.

Giving up aircraft assessments would lessen the burden on county assessors, many of whom are underfunded by years of budget cuts; and while the assessors and their hardworking staff do a wonderful job with limited resources, this is clearly an issue where state government is the more efficient and effective party to carry out these responsibilities.

We’re ready and willing to work with the Legislature to address the concerns raised by a handful of assessors and amplified by Hiltzik. But so far, legislators who have already considered their concerns have rejected them as unfounded, voting unanimously to move the bill forward.

California’s tax system is needlessly complicated and confusing for taxpayers large and small; and as Hiltzik’s column perhaps unintentionally reveals, the forces behind the status quo will vehemently oppose even the smallest, most common sense, bipartisan tax reforms.

Making life simpler for taxpayers and business owners should be a goal we continually work on, and SB 661 is a perfect example of a modest reform that will have a positive impact.

George Runner and Fiona Ma serve as elected members of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit boe.ca.gov.

 


 

Sacramento - George Runner today issued the following statement in response to the Governor's revised budget proposal:

"The Governor is right to recognize that much of the money currently pouring into Sacramento is one-time dollars. Whether the Legislature will show similar spending restraint is an open question.

"One thing is clear: given the current revenue windfall, tax increases are off the table. Instead of proposing tax hikes, the Legislature should spend its time ensuring taxpayers receive value for their money.

"There's no question government is doing well. We now need to make sure the people who fund government with their hard-earned dollars have a chance to prosper too."

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as an elected member and Vice Chair of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner.

 


 
Senator George Runner
Senator George Runner
Serving the 17th District which incorporates portions of the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura and Kern counties.

The last thing overtaxed Californians need is another tax. Yet the Legislature continues to churn out new taxes that, once enacted, rarely go away.

Our economy has been transitioning to a greater reliance on services.As a result, some tax reform groupshave argued for expanding the sales tax to includeservices. On its own, a sales tax on services—like Senate Bill 8 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg—is a terrible idea. It would impose a massive, complicated tax increase on both businesses and consumers. In fact, a recent study found that fully taxing all services would cost California taxpayers as much as $123 billion moreeach year.

But what if shifting to a greater reliance on “consumption” taxes, like the sales tax, allowed us to eliminate taxes that destroy jobs, like the income tax? What if we didn’t raise taxes, but instead shifted them, replacing income taxwith an expanded sales tax—and abolished the Franchise Tax Board?

It might be difficult to imagine a California without an income tax, since most of us weren’t aliveduring the Great Depression, when California first started collecting it. However, seven U.S. statesseem to be doing just fine without an income tax. And by several key measures, they’redoing far better than California.

According to financial publisher Bankrate, six of the seven states with no income tax—Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming—are all considered better retirement destinations than California. (The exception being Alaska, for obvious,climate-related reasons.)

Retirees who have invested their lives in our state shouldn’t be forced to move away from their kids and grandkids for financial reasons. Yet the Manhattan Institutecites retirement-related moves as a key ingredient in the “The Great California Exodus” of more than 3.4 million residents since 1990.

Another vital measure is poverty. California’s so-called “progressive” income tax has done little to improve the plight of the poor. In fact, based on data from the Census Bureau, California has the nation’s highest poverty rate when other cost-of-living factors, such as taxes, are considered.

The reason is simple. California’s punitive income tax ratesdrive away the very jobs and investment that help low-income workers move up the economic ladder. According to the Tax Foundation,some small employers in our state face combined top marginal tax rates exceeding 50%.

Thedramatic ups and downs of California’s income tax createconditions ripe for new and higher taxes.Good tax policy is rarely formed in moments of crisis.Steepdeclines in income tax revenue led toProposition 30, which increased both sales and income tax. Those drops also gave us the lumber tax and a controversial fire prevention fee.Tax increases, even when sold as temporary, rarely go away after the state’s rollercoaster revenues rebound.

If California joined the growing number of states consideringelimination of theirstate income tax, it mightincrease pressure to get rid of the federal income tax.A movement in favor of what is known as the “FairTax” seeks to repeal the 16th Amendment and replace federal income tax with a national sales tax. Sure, it’s a long-shot, but who wouldn’t be glad to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service?

A common objection to replacing the income tax with a consumption tax is that, unlike income tax, sales taxes are regressive—hitting lower incomepeople the hardest. This objection can be answered in several ways. For instance, some economists have suggested making thesales tax “progressive” by excluding more basic necessities or providing a rebate for seniors and others with lower incomes.

If we eliminate the income tax, most workers would immediately experience an overnight increase in take-home pay. True, service-oriented businesses would have to collect and pay sales tax, but they’d also no longer be paying state income tax.

What’s needed now is a serious study of the options before us. Which revenue neutral tax changes would improve California’s economic competitiveness? Which changes would raise incomes, grow jobs and keep more retirees in our state? Which changes would produce the most stable revenue and spur the most growth?

Since taxes affect behavior, dynamic economic modeling would provide answers to these key questions. Butfirst, California’s leaders need to muster the courage to ask the questions.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians asVice Chair of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit boe.ca.gov/Runner.

 


 

Sacramento - Legislation sponsored by Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner advanced in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee today. SB 526 (Fuller) would give the Franchise Tax Board authority to honor legal divorce agreements regarding payment of taxes when determining if one spouse can be relieved of a joint tax liability.

"If two parties reach a court-approved agreement that they believe has fairly divided assets and debts, then a tax agency should respect that agreement," said Runner. "Telling taxpayers that they must go back to court in order to enforce a divorce agreement is inefficient government. This must be changed."

Currently, most of the income tax appeals to reach the Board of Equalization that include a divorce settlement agreement involve women who believe they were protected from tax liability, but discover their only recourse to enforce the agreement is to go back to court or pay the tax. SB 526 will assist in easing the financial burden of divorced women who should have no legal obligation to pay the tax, as stipulated by their divorce agreement.

"Divorce can be difficult enough without the addition of more court filings and paperwork to work out a tax liability decision already agreed upon by both parties," said Senator Jean Fuller. "SB 526 will provide the FTB with the flexibility to consider the divorce agreement when making a liability ruling therefor reducing the need for additional expenses to the impacted party."

SB 526 is also supported by Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as an elected member and Vice Chair of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner.

 


 

SACRAMENTO – Senator Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) has called upon the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to provide insight into its decision to terminate enforcement of the uniform sex offender residency restrictions under Jessica’s Law.

“I was alarmed by CDCR’s sweeping decision to stop enforcing the people’s will as expressed in Jessica’s Law,” said Runner. “The residency restrictions in Jessica’s Law provide important peace of mind for California’s families.”

Runner specifically demanded the release of an unpublished opinion from Attorney General Harris used by CDCR to justify the policy change.

In a letter to CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard, Runner writes: “The public, the press and the Legislature have a right to a transparent explanation of the Department’s position. For the sake of transparency, it is imperative that you release the opinion of the Attorney General without delay!”

Runner is also working on legislation that will clarify any confusion caused by the decision of the California Supreme Court regarding CDCR’s enforcement of sex offenders in San Diego County. Currently she is working on building a coalition of support for a legislative remedy that keeps the integrity of Jessica’s Law intact.

“As an author of Jessica’s Law, I continue to stand behind the package of reforms that have made California’s communities safer,” said Runner.

Runner authored voter-approved Jessica’s Law along with her husbad, Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner, in 2006. In addition to mandatory residency restrictions for sex offenders, the law includes many important public safety reforms such as strengthened sexually violent predator laws and increased parole terms. The California Supreme Court’s decision in early March and the recent CDCR policy change only relates to the residency requirements in Jessica’s Law.

Elected in March 2015, Sharon Runner represents portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties as Senator for the 21st District. Her district includes the Antelope Valley, Victor Valley and portions of the Santa Clarita Valley. For more information, visit http://district21.cssrc.us/.

FULL TEXT OF RUNNER LETTER

April 6, 2015

Dr. Jeffrey Beard, Secretary
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
1515 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

RE: Enforcement of Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

Dear Secretary Beard,

It was with alarm that I learned of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Division of Adult Parole Operations’ decision to terminate enforcement of the uniform sex offender residency restrictions in all of California’s 58 counties. The voter-approved prohibition precludes paroled sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children play. The Department has justified its abrupt change in policy by referencing a recent San Diego-specific decision of the California Supreme Court. According to CDCR’ s press release, Attorney General Harris has advised the Department that the California Supreme Court will ultimately decide the residency restriction is unconstitutional statewide. A charitable interpretation of the release would lead one to conclude that CDCR has confused the opinion of the Attorney General with the opinion of the California Supreme Court.

The Rule of Law

The law that your Department seeks to preemptively repeal was approved by the more than 70% of California voters who supported Jessica’s Law (Proposition 83, 2006). Proposition 83 enjoyed the support of then-Attorney General Brown.

While it is a matter of record that your Department has recommended the repeal of the 2,000 feet restriction, it must be clear to you that the authority to do so cannot be found in an unpublished opinion from Attorney General Harris. It is indeed extraordinary that the Department has rebuffed requests for release of the opinion by asserting attorney-client privilege. To restate the obvious: the public, the press and the Legislature have a right to a transparent explanation of the Department’s position.

For the sake of transparency, it is imperative that you release the opinion of the Attorney General without delay!

Amending a Voter Initiative

Most Californians believe in rehabilitation and redemption but few would advocate allowing sex offenders to reside across the street from a school or park where children play. For these reasons, voters embraced Jessica’s Law and the provision that precludes sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. It is the task of state government to implement the will of the voters to the extent possible. When it is necessary to amend laws approved by the people the procedures are clear. Unilateral action by your Department usurps the authority of the voters, the Legislature and the Supreme Court. Please rethink your position and confer with the Legislature before implementing changes to Jessica’s Law.

Sincerely,

Sharon Runner
Senator, 21st District

 


 

SACRAMENTO – Jessica’s Law authors George and Sharon Runner today responded to a decision by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to stop enforcing Jessica’s Law residency restrictions statewide:

“We’re disappointed by the Corrections Department’s sweeping decision to stop enforcing the people’s will as expressed in Jessica’s Law.

“The residency restrictions in Jessica’s Law help keep our neighborhoods and children safe and provide important piece of mind for California’s families.

“Jerry Brown supported Jessica’s Law when he was Attorney General. It’s disappointing that his administration would go so far beyond what the court required.

“We intend to reintroduce our legislation granting discretion to local governments in these matters. We urge the Legislature to act on it immediately to protect the safety of California’s kids.

“In the meantime, we encourage CDCR to use good judgment in placing parolees.”

Knowing sex offenders might challenge Jessica’s Law, George Runner introduced Senate Bill 54 in 2010 to give local governments increased flexibility regarding residency requirements. Senator Sharon Runner took authorship of the bill in 2011. It was subsequently killed by the Legislature. The California Supreme Court decision does not provide local governments the flexibility to craft a more appropriate alternative for their communities.

Runner and his wife, Senator Sharon Runner, are the authors of the voter-approved Proposition 83, otherwise known as Jessica’s Law. In addition to mandatory residency restrictions for sex offenders, the law includes many important public safety reforms such as strengthened sexually violent predator laws and increased parole terms. The California Supreme Court’s decision in early March only relates to the residency requirements in Jessica’s Law.

Both George and Sharon Runner continue to stand behind the package of reforms that have made California’s communities safer and are opposed to any efforts to undermine them.

George and Sharon Runner are the first husband and wife in California history to have served concurrently in the Legislature. George serves as Vice Chair of the State Board of Equalization. Sharon represents the 21st District in the California State Senate.

 

CAMARILLO, CA – City and county government officials from throughout Ventura County and a land-use consultant recently joined the board of directors of the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. The new members include Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, Camarillo Vice Mayor Mike Morgan, Santa Paula Mayor John Procter, Ojai Councilmember William Weirick, Thousand Oaks Mayor Al Adam and Sandy Smith of Sespe Consulting, representing the Ventura County Economic Development Association (VCEDA). Each new member brings a wealth of business and leadership experience to the board, which includes representatives from private-sector businesses, the county and each of its 10 cities. This ensures every sector and community has a voice in EDC-VC’s growing list of programs and services.

As board members, the six will help guide the organization and ensure it follows its goals and objectives for promoting jobs and economic growth to maintain the county’s economic strength through key programs and services.

“Each of the leaders joining our board possesses a deep understanding of local government and the business community, fostering insights on how we can strengthen our public-private partnerships for the benefit of the region’s businesses,” said Bruce Stenslie, president/CEO of EDC-VC.

Parks has been a member of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors since 2003. She previously served as a planning commissioner, city councilmember and mayor for the city of Thousand Oaks. As a supervisor, Parks continues championing quality-of-life issues. She holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Washington and sits on many local and regional boards and commissions.

Morgan has served as a Camarillo councilmember since 1980, with five terms as mayor. A founding member of the Camarillo Arts Festival and past board member of the American Cancer Society, Morgan currently serves on the finance/investment and policy committees, along with the Camarillo Ranch House committee. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.

A lifelong Santa Paula resident, Procter was elected to the city council in 2014 and is serving his third term after a six year absence. A Stanford alumnus, Procter has been on several boards throughout the county. An active supporter of the American Cancer Society, he has been on the steering committee for the Santa Paula Relay for Life since its inception and serves as chair of the ACS Silicon Coastal Region.

A first-term Ojai councilmember, Weirick brings 20 years’ experience as an academic administrator and economics professor. For the past 15 years, he also has been part of the management team for a third-generation family business, managing a diversified portfolio of real estate assets in Southern California. Weirick served as the Ojai Building Appeals Board chair and supported community organizations, such as Ojai FLOW and the Ojai Valley Museum.

Currently serving as mayor for the city of Thousand Oaks, Adam has served on numerous boards and commissions during his 38 years as a Thousand Oaks resident, including chair of the YMCA and the Civic Arts Plaza. A managing director of investments for Wells Fargo Advisors, Adam is a founder of the Alliance for the Arts, chairman of the Ventura Council of Governments and an active member of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Smith is a former Ventura mayor and councilmember and a third-generation resident of Ventura County. Currently, he is employed as a land use consultant for Sespe Consulting, an engineering firm based in Ventura. An adjunct professor in the master’s degree program in public policy and administration at California Lutheran University, Smith teaches classes in urban planning and civic engagement. He also serves as chair of VCEDA’s board of directors.

EDC-VC is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as a business-to-government liaison to assist businesses in Ventura County by offering programs that enhance the economic vitality of the region. For more information about the Small Business Development Center and loan, manufacturing outreach and international trade programs, contact Bruce Stenslie at 805-384-1800 ext. 24, or bruce.stenslie@edc-vc.com. Or visit www.edc-vc.com.

 
Says True Tax Reform Would Lead to a Brighter California

SACRAMENTO – During a discussion at the 2015 Cal Tax Annual Members meeting, Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner called for a meaningful public discourse on tax reform ideas that makes life easier for taxpayers. Runner suggested replacing California’s income tax with a sales tax on services.

“If you want real tax reform, we ought to look at eliminating the state’s personal and corporate income tax,” said Runner. “One less tax agency would make California a far more attractive place for jobs, retirees and investment.”

Runner noted that if California eliminated income tax more companies would base themselves in California. Also, more residents would stay in the state upon retirement, leading to more revenue for the State of California.

Seven states do not have an income tax. Those states include Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

Runner said true tax reform makes tax systems simpler, rather than more complicated. He called Senate Bill 8 (Hertzberg), which would extend sales tax to services, a massive tax increase. In its current form the legislation would make California’s tax system more complicated and add thousands of state auditors and tax collectors to state payrolls.

“Any shift to a broader reliance on sales tax must be combined with real tax reform that removes barriers to doing business in our state,” added Runner. “Don’t be seduced by false reform that makes California’s tax code more complicated for everyone.”

Runner called for dynamic economic modeling of the likely benefits of an elimination of income tax and a shift to a consumption-based tax system. He encouraged businesses to conduct their own modeling to weigh the pros and cons of such a structure.

The annual meeting hosted by Cal Tax attracts taxpayers from many industries and gives the business community an opportunity to be updated on legislative affairs.

Elected in November 2010 and re-elected in 2014, George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a member of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner.

 

The 2014-2015 Ventura County Grand Jury has released its first report of the current fiscal year, titled “Elections and Polling Place Observations.” Viewing and commenting on the county’s election procedures is regularly included in the government watchdog’s oversight duties.

On the last election day, Nov. 4, 2014, the grand jury monitored county polls by conducting unannounced observations of polling places and by observing the county clerk and recorder/registrar of voter’s central counting place in the county center. In preparation for their observations, 12 grand jurors attended the three-hour “Election Officer Training Course” presented by the county’s Elections Division.

Grand jury members used checksheets to record their observations of polling place conditions and poll worker performance. An analysis of these checksheets shows that the jurors rated most polling places as clean and in good repair, with acceptable lighting and noise levels, properly set-up voting booths, readily accessible voting materials and welcoming and knowledgeable poll workers. The grand jury found that variations from normal ballot procedures were understood and handled well by poll workers.

In its report, the grand jury recommends that the Elections Division reduce possible confusion by locating only one polling place in a single building. Where multiple precincts are located in a single polling place, the Elections Division should take steps to instruct poll workers to clearly separate the precincts and prevent votes from being cast in an incorrect precinct.

The report also recommends possible revisions to the Elections Division’s training, including increasing the length of the course, emphasizing the need for proper signage (particularly bilingual signage), and providing additional hands-on training in the setup and use of electronic voting machines.

The grand jury report commends the Elections Division for its hard work in training poll workers and for providing technical support on election day. The grand jury also commends poll workers for the long hours they spent ensuring that all county voters were afforded the opportunity to vote. Further commendations went to the county clerk and recorder/registrar of voters for his efforts to certify the election results well in advance of the date prescribed by California law.

The complete report may be accessed at http://www.ventura.org/grand-jury; click on the “Annual Reports” tab and consult “Fiscal Year 2014-2015.”

 

The 2014-2015 Ventura County Grand Jury has released its first report of the current fiscal year, titled “Elections and Polling Place Observations.” Viewing and commenting on the county’s election procedures is regularly included in the government watchdog’s oversight duties.

On the last election day, Nov. 4, 2014, the grand jury monitored county polls by conducting unannounced observations of polling places and by observing the county clerk and recorder/registrar of voter’s central counting place in the county center. In preparation for their observations, 12 grand jurors attended the three-hour “Election Officer Training Course” presented by the county’s Elections Division.

Grand jury members used checksheets to record their observations of polling place conditions and poll worker performance. An analysis of these checksheets shows that the jurors rated most polling places as clean and in good repair, with acceptable lighting and noise levels, properly set-up voting booths, readily accessible voting materials and welcoming and knowledgeable poll workers. The grand jury found that variations from normal ballot procedures were understood and handled well by poll workers.

In its report, the grand jury recommends that the Elections Division reduce possible confusion by locating only one polling place in a single building. Where multiple precincts are located in a single polling place, the Elections Division should take steps to instruct poll workers to clearly separate the precincts and prevent votes from being cast in an incorrect precinct.

The report also recommends possible revisions to the Elections Division’s training, including increasing the length of the course, emphasizing the need for proper signage (particularly bilingual signage), and providing additional hands-on training in the setup and use of electronic voting machines.

The grand jury report commends the Elections Division for its hard work in training poll workers and for providing technical support on election day. The grand jury also commends poll workers for the long hours they spent ensuring that all county voters were afforded the opportunity to vote. Further commendations went to the county clerk and recorder/registrar of voters for his efforts to certify the election results well in advance of the date prescribed by California law.

The complete report may be accessed at http://www.ventura.org/grand-jury; click on the “Annual Reports” tab and consult “Fiscal Year 2014-2015.”

 

SACRAMENTO, CA – Board of Equalization Vice Chair and Jessica’s Law author George Runner today criticized the California Supreme Court for striking down mandatory residency restrictions on San Diego County sex offenders under Jessica’s Law without providing any alternative.

“Today’s California Supreme Court decision could allow a child molester to live across the street from a school or park where children gather,” said Runner. “It puts San Diego families at risk and sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the state.”

Runner and his wife, former Senator Sharon Runner, are the authors of the voter-approved Proposition 83, otherwise known as Jessica’s Law. In addition to mandatory residency restrictions for sex offenders, the law includes many important public safety reforms such as strengthened sexually violent predator laws and increased parole terms. The California Supreme Court’s decision only relates to the residency requirements in Jessica’s Law.

“The voters overwhelmingly approved Jessica’s Law on the November 2006 ballot,” said Runner. “The California Supreme Court has substituted the opinion of the court over the will of the people.”

Knowing sex offenders might challenge Jessica’s Law, George Runner introduced Senate Bill 54 in 2010 to give local governments increased flexibility regarding residency requirements. Senator Sharon Runner took authorship of the bill in 2011. It was subsequently killed by the Legislature. In its decision, the California Supreme Court has not provided local governments the flexibility to craft a more appropriate alternative for their communities.

As the authors of Jessica’s Law, both George and Sharon Runner continue to stand behind the package of reforms that have made California’s communities safer, and are opposed to any efforts to undermine them.

George and Sharon Runner are the authors of Jessica’s Law and the first husband and wife in California history to have served concurrently in the Legislature. George currently represents more than nine million Californians as a taxpayer advocate and elected member of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner.

 

With prices at the pump heading back up, news of a cut to the state’s gas tax will surely cheer California drivers.

On February 24, the State Board of Equalization approved a 6 cent per gallon cut to the state’s gas tax. The change, which will take effect July 1, is based on a complicated formula enacted by the Legislature in 2010.

While California drivers will surely welcome news of a cut, there are some who would rather see gas taxes go up. They think you should be sending more dollars, not fewer, to Sacramento.

But let’s be honest, government already has more than enough of your dollars. Californians pay about 64 cents per gallon in taxes and fees – the second-highest rate in the nation. In reality, we have the nation’s highest gas tax once you include the new hidden gas tax imposed by regulators to help fund the state’s anti-global-warming efforts.

Californians must even pay taxes on their taxes. That’s double taxation – and it’s wrong.

California’s gas tax is so confusing and complicated that even news reporters don’t understand it. Recent media reports have painted an incomplete and misleading picture of state gas tax revenues. One story erroneously claimed that “state gas tax revenues that pay for roads have been falling for a decade.”

The truth is that while consumption has slipped somewhat, California’s revenues from gas and diesel sales have grown in nine of the past 10 fiscal years. California’s fuel tax revenues have grown nearly every year.

During the past 10 fiscal years, sales and excise tax revenues from fuel sales grew by nearly 35 percent – from $6.5 billion to a record $8.7 billion.

Breaking these numbers down, gas-tax-related revenues grew from $5.5 billion to a record $7.4 billion, while diesel-tax-related revenues rose from $1 billion to a record $1.3 billion between fiscal year 2004-05 and 2013-14.

California doesn’t need higher taxes; instead we need a simpler gas tax that is easy to understand and administer. And, most importantly, we need to ensure our gas tax dollars are invested wisely and cost-effectively, rather than wasted on bureaucracy and bullet trains.

The gas tax used to be straightforward. A sticker on the gas pump told consumers how much they were paying in federal and state taxes. The revenue collected paid for vital transportation needs, like improving roads and highways.

Unfortunately, revenue-hungry politicians starting raiding the state’s unprotected transportation fund in order to plug budget holes or fund their pet projects. Voters responded by passing Propositions 42 and 1A, in an effort to stop the Legislature from stealing transportation dollars.

In 2010, legislators got creative and had their budget wonks devise a bizarrely complex system that would allow them to grab a billion dollars from the highway fund.

Dubbed the “fuel tax swap,” the new law raised the excise tax while lowering sales tax on gas purchases. To guard against revenue loss, the law required the state Board of Equalization to annually adjust the state’s excise tax rate.

One thing is certain: California consumers have no idea who is determining the state’s gas tax rates or why. They also don’t know where their money is being spent or why California has the worst roads in the nation when we’re paying the most in taxes.

Following Oregon’s lead, the California Legislature has ordered Caltrans to create a “Road Usage Charge Pilot Program” to be implemented in 2017. The goal of the program is to study mileage-based alternatives to the gas tax.

At first blush, a mileage tax might seem simpler and fairer. But do we really want government officials to know where we’ve been and how many miles we drive each year? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a government auditor in my car.

Taxes should be simple and clear. Unfortunately, in California “tax reform” is nearly always code for taking more of people’s money to grow government.

So while Californians may deserve a simpler tax system, I’m not holding my breath we’ll get one anytime soon.
George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a taxpayer advocate and elected member of the State Board of Equalization (boe.ca.gov/Runner).

 

The City is in the process of visiting various senior centers throughout Ventura County, senior housing facilities and attending senior events to gather residents’ comments and other valuable information on ways to enhance Fillmore’s Active Adult community’s experience at the Senior Center.

• Staff has identified over 75 new programs to incorporate over time into the senior center’s programming covering the following areas - arts and crafts, music, leisure activities, education, health, and performances by outside groups.

• Staff is reviewing proposals to make improvements to the facility’s restrooms.

• City Council will consider at its February 24th meeting, the creation and establishment of an Active Adult Commission. The Commission will make recommendations on the best way to operate the Senior Center to maximize its usage to the greatest extent possible among other items.

• Public meetings are being scheduled in March to receive additional feedback from the active adult community on the programs and services they would like to see offered.

• The City is considering rebranding the Senior Center to represent our vibrant, diverse and active adult community.

The City enjoys working with everyone as we move forward with enhancing the Senior Center and continuing to show everyone why Fillmore is the “Last Best Small Town.”

 
City of Fillmore
City of Fillmore

CITY OF FILLMORE CITY COUNCIL & SUCCESSOR AGENCY AGENDA

SPECIAL MEETING

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015
12:00 P.M.

AMENDED TO REFLECT THE DAY OF WEEK (SATURDAY)

FILLMORE CITY HALL
CENTRAL PARK PLAZA
250 CENTRAL AVENUE
FILLMORE, CALIFORNIA 93015-1907
(805) 524-3701 • www.fillmoreca.com

WELCOME TO THE CITY OF FILLMORE CITY COUNCIL MEETING! Your participation at this public meeting is valued and appreciated. Please note the City Council and Successor Agency convene concurrently.

Agenda/Packet: The Agenda/Packet is available for review at Fillmore City Hall and online at www.fillmoreca.com/cityhall/agendas 72 hours before the scheduled meeting (but generally available the Thursday prior to the scheduled Tuesday meeting). Materials related to an item on this agenda submitted to the City Council/Successor Agency after distribution of the agenda packet are available for public inspection in the City Clerk’s Office during regular business hours and on the City’s website subject to staff’s ability to post the documents before the meeting.

Americans with Disabilities Act: In compliance with the ADA, if you need special assistance to participate in this meeting or other services in conjunction with this meeting, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at 534-3701. Notification 48 hours prior to the meeting will enable the City to make reasonable arrangements to ensure accessibility to this meeting. (28 CFR 35.102-35.104 ADA Title II)

Audible Devices: Please ensure all audible devices (pagers, telephones, etc.) are off or otherwise not audible when the City Council/SA is in session. Thank you.

Challenging City Council/Successor Agency Decisions: Any legal action by an applicant seeking to obtain a judicial review of the City Council/Successor Agency’s decision on a hearing or issue listed on this Agenda may be subject to the 90-day filing period of, and governed by, Code of Civil Procedure § 1094.6. Additionally, if you challenge the actions of the City Council/Successor Agency in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public hearing described in the public notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the City Council/Successor Agency at, or prior to, the public hearing pursuant to California Government Code § 65009.

Consent Calendar: Items listed on the Consent Calendar are considered to be routine in nature, not discussed individually, and are normally approved by one motion. If a Councilmember or member of the public wishes to comment on a particular item, that item shall be removed for separate action.

No New Business will be considered by the City Council/Successor Agency after 11:30 p.m. unless a majority of the legislative body determines to continue.

Public Input; If you wish to address the Council/Successor Agency regarding an item listed on this agenda, please complete and submit an Audience Participation Form to the City Clerk prior to consideration of that agenda item. Public Comments is the time for presentations/comments not on this agenda but within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the City Council/Successor Agency. Please complete and submit an Audience Participation Form to the City Clerk prior to the beginning of Public Comments. Pursuant to California Government Code/Brown Act, the City Council/ Successor Agency ordinarily cannot take action on any item that is not listed on the agenda. As a result, matters identified during Public Comment will be referred to staff for follow-up or considered on a future agenda. In accordance with Resolution No. 09-3175, speakers are provided five (5) minutes for items listed on the agenda and no more than five (5) minutes to speak during Public Comments. Please stay within the time allotment indicated by the Mayor.

Replay Schedule: City Council/SA meetings will be re-broadcast on Channel 10 daily at 6:00 p.m.

FILLMORE CITY COUNCIL & SUCCESSOR AGENCY
SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA
SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 - 12:00 P.M.
COUNCIL CHAMBERS – CITY HALL

1. Call to Order:

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3. Roll Call: Council/Successor Agency members Rick Neal, Manuel Minjares, Carrie Broggie, Vice Chair/Mayor Pro Tem Diane McCall and Chair/Mayor Douglas Tucker

4. Approval of Agenda

5. Public Comments
Pursuant to Government Code § 54954.3(a), Only Issues Listed on This Agenda Shall Be Heard During this Special Meeting.

6. New Business

A. Strategic Planning Session – Win/Win Solutions

7. Committee, Commission, and Board Reports

8. City Council Reports, Recommendations, and Comments

A. City Councilmember Brief Reports

B. Any Councilmember May Propose Items for Placement on Future Agenda

9. Adjournment: Mayor adjourns this meeting to the next City Council meeting scheduled for February 10, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 250 Central Avenue.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Amended Agenda Posted: January 27, 2015, 12:00 p.m.

 

PIRU NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL MEETING
PO BOX 162, 802 0rchard Street, PIRU Community Center- 805-521-1333
Wednesday January 21, 2015 7:00 P.M.

AGENDA
Call to order:
Pledge of Allegiance
Roll call:
OFFICERS
President: Tim Cohen Vice President: Lupe Hurtado Secretary: Yvonne Gonzalez
Treasurer: Jazmin Gonzalez Ways and Means: Julieanne Lugo
Approval of Agenda: January 2015 Approval of November 2014 Minutes
Crime Report: Bryan Sliva
Fire Safety Report: Fred Ponce
New Business:

A. Skate Park hours of operation and lighting

B. Cabrillo Bridge View Apartment Appeal February 03, 2015 @1:30pm

C. Piru Youth Sports

Old Business
A. Holiday Parade/ Food Basket/Toys for Tots
B. Lake Piru Recreation Area
C. Ventura County Planning Commission- Kim Prillhart -
i. The CUP process and how the Planning Division and the PNC work together
ii. DCOR – the recommendation for approval from the PNC.- Withdrew Application

Treasurer’s report
A. PNC Account Balance $2435.14
B. Scholarship fund Balance is $70.00
C. Skate Piru $1138.00

Public comments:

Next Meeting: Wednesday February 18, 2015 @ 7pm Meeting adjourned:

 

On January 13, 2015, Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long, was elected unanimously by her peers on the 5-member County Board of Supervisors to serve as the 2015 Chair of the Board. This is the 4th time that Supervisor Long has served as Chair since she was elected in 1997.

“I am honored to be named as Chair of the Board for 2015, said Supervisor Kathy Long, “as Chair,I believe there are opportunities this next year for us tobuild upon the strength of our County”. Kathy Long plans to outline her vision for 2015 at the January 27th Board meeting, “I will be proposing an initiative that will engage the diversity of the County’s public service responsibilities to promote health, equity and sustainability which will help advance economic stability, public safety and the well-being ofall County residents”.

Kathy Long represents the Third District which includes the areas of Camarillo, Port Hueneme, South Oxnard, East Oxnard Plain, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, East Lockwood Valley, and Eastern Portion of Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme.

 

Ventura, CA – Ventura County Clerk Recorder/Registrar of Voters Mark Lunn announced today the final election results for the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election with 100% of precincts reporting.

A total of 203,783 ballots were cast in this election. 58.45%of the ballots were cast by mail and41.55% were cast at the 278 polling places located throughout Ventura County. Final results for this election revealed a 47.06% voter turnout.

California Law allows 28 days (December 2, 2014) after Election Day for the County Registrar of Voters to certify election results. This election was certified in 20 days. Over the last four years, the Elections Division conducted a record 17 elections, all of which were certified priorto the State deadline.

Additional information is available at the Elections Division website http://venturavote.org or by calling the Elections Division at 654-2664.

 

Ventura, CA – Ventura County ClerkRecorder/Registrar of Voters Mark Lunn announced today that Vote By Mail ballots for the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election will be available beginning Monday, October 6, 2014. All voters have the option to vote by mail. This method allows voters to vote from home at their convenience and return their ballot by mail.

Lunn stated, “Voters can request their Vote By Mail ballotbeginning on October 6, 2014 and are encouraged to return voted ballots as soon as possible.Ballotsshould be mailed by the Tuesday before the election (October 28) to ensure on-time delivery.”

Vote By Mail ballots will be delivered to post offices on Monday, October 6, 2014. Voters who are not on the permanent Vote By Mail ballot list and want to vote by mail should complete and return the application on the back of the Sample Ballot booklet or on the Elections Division website http://venturavote.org. Voters can apply for permanent Vote By Mail status by submitting a permanent Vote By Mail voter application that can be found on the website on the Forms menu. Voters may also apply in person at the Ventura County Elections Division no later than Tuesday, October 28, 2014. The website contains important voter information that can be accessed from any electronic device with an Internet connection.

Voters may also cast their vote at the Elections Division beginning Monday, October 6, 2014. Completed Vote By Mail ballots may be dropped off before Election Day at the Elections Division or in the 24-hour ballot drop off box located in front of the Hall of Administration at the Government Center. Ballots may also be dropped off at any local City Hall during their business hours, starting October 7, 2014 through Election Day.All voted ballots must be returned to any Ventura County polling place or to the Elections Division by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 4, 2014.

Additional information is available on the Elections Division website http://venturavote.org or by calling the Elections Division at 654-2664.

 
Democratic incumbent Julia Brownley and Republican challenger Jeff Gorell will square off in a public forum Sunday, Oct. 12

Camarillo, CA - CSU Channel Islands (CI) will host the first public debate between the candidates for California’s 26th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday, Oct. 12, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Grand Salon. Pre-registration is encouraged at https://csuci.wufoo.com/forms/candidate-forum-for-congressional-district....

Sponsored jointly by the League of Women Voters of Ventura County, the Ventura County Star and CI, the public forum offers voters the opportunity to hear from Democratic incumbent Julia Brownley and Republican challenger Jeff Gorell in one of the nation’s most closely watched and hotly contested congressional races.

The event is designed to encourage public participation, with debate topics driven by the audience. Candidates will make opening and closing remarks and answer questions submitted in writing by audience members.

“It will be their only opportunity to see the candidates meet face to face, and in modern campaigns that are driven by slick advertising and mailers that are largely hysterical and hyberbolic, this will be an opportunity to get a measure of the candidates in an authentic setting,” said Ventura County Star State Bureau Chief Timm Herdt, the debate’s moderator.

Brownley (D-Westlake Village) won the seat in 2012 with 52.7 percent of the votes. With fewer Democratic voters predicted to head to the polls for the Nov. 4 midterm election, the race between Brownley and Gorell, a Republican assemblyman from Camarillo, is shaping up to be highly competitive.

“This will be a low turnout election as there is no presidential race, the governor’s race is not competitive, and there are no ballot propositions that will drive people to the polls,” said Professor Scott Frisch, Chair of CI’s Political Science program. “In close elections like this, a debate performance can make or break a candidate, particularly if one candidate commits a gaffe or appears not up to the task.”

In addition to helping voters learn more about the candidates, the on-campus debate presents an opportunity for CI students – many of whom will be voting for the first time in this election – to participate in the political process. Student government volunteers are working with the League of Women Voters to register voters on campus and will help gather questions from the audience during the debate.

“The League of Women Voters of Ventura County is very pleased to be a co-sponsor of the upcoming forum when voters will learn first-hand about the candidates' views on a number of important issues,” said League Co-President Barbara Doyle. “The League's core mission is to educate voters so that each of us can make an informed decision before voting. CI, the only public university in Ventura County, is the ideal venue for this forum, as its students will become our future leaders. It is vitally important for them, and for all voters, to see just how important it is to study the issues and then take action by voting."

Pre-registration is encouraged at https://csuci.wufoo.com/forms/candidate-forum-for-congressional-district.... Parking is complimentary. Once on campus, follow signs to the designated lot.

About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI’s Social Media.

 

This weekend California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the Drone Privacy Protection Act of 2014, landmark legislation that established statewide restrictions on local and state government use of surveillance drones. AB 1327 was chief authored by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) and joint authored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D- Gardena), Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), and Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance).

“I am very disappointed by this democratic Governor’s decision to veto a bill that provided commonsense protections to protect privacy rights and civil liberties,” said Jeff Gorell, a Commander in the U.S. Navy. “We live in an era of government surveillance, where powerful government agencies like the NSA and IRS have demonstrated blatant disregard for Americans’ privacy rights. In Congress, I will make personal privacy a top priority and work on establishing common sense drone restrictions that California failed to establish.”

AB 1327 required law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant except in specified situations, such as exigent circumstances (hostage situations, “hot pursuit,” search and rescue, etc.), firefighting, and responding to environmental disasters (chemical/oil spills). AB 1327 also prohibited the weaponization of drones, required agencies intending to use drones to provide public notice, and required drone-collected images to be destroyed within 1 year.

AB 1327 endorsements include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, Ventura County Star, and Sacramento Bee. Additionally, over 40 constitutional law professors from across the nation urged Governor Brown to sign AB 1327 into law. Erwin Chemerinksy, a prominent constitutional scholar and founding dean of UC Irvine School of Law, also supported the bill and penned an opinion editorial explaining why AB 1327 needs to become the law.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been mandated by Congress and the President to integrate drones into the national airspace by 2015. An estimated 20,000 drones are expected to fill the nation’s skies by 2020. AB 1327 was the only drone privacy protection bill that passed out of the Legislature to the Governor.