Why the Ventura County Transportation Tax ballot measure is WRONG

EditorialBy George Miller


As part of a coordinated statewide effort, government is attempting to grow and increase its salestaxrevenues on multiple fronts. One of them is via county level transportation tax initiatives to maintain/renew infrastructure.  Not surprisingly, there is a Ventura County- half-percent sales tax increase measure on the November ballot this year. It would siphon off an additional $3 billion of our income over a 30 year period.

The “bait” is that some of the money would be directed to revenue-starved localities, which have already seen much of their property tax and sales tax revenues shipped off to Sacramento for the state to control. So the big attraction is that the state supposedly can’t take this money. Where have we heard that before and what about the money they already took from our property and sales taxes, not to mention one of the highest state income taxes, the hidden “cap and trade” “credits” and more? The state wants to add a tax by the mile, too.

The national, state, county and local transportation infrastructure was built and maintained for many years without this initiative. In fact, most of the infrastructure is already here, requiring only maintenance and minimal expansion. So, why is a new tax now required?

The real reason this money is being sought is that existing funding streams have been redirected and misappropriated, for purposes they were never intended for, such as housing, bike paths, “green” projects, mass transit boondoggles, various subsidies, etc. Instead of pushing for a greater and greater share of The Peoples’ money, officials should be insisting upon restoring the proper funds flow for originally intended purposes.

In addition to new sales taxes, governments have been demanding increasingly higher or extended income taxes, gas taxes, mileage taxes, cap and trade taxes, so we’re already paying more. This initiative is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are over 400 ballot measures around the state this year calling for new/higher taxes or fees.

Some of the transportation “grant” money, which comes from the federal or state governments (but don’t forget where it originated) comes with strings attached, such as demanding matching local funds. Now this is being used as an additional excuse for new taxes.

While taxes are increasing as a share of peoples’ incomes, real wages have stagnated since 1972, actually dropping in real terms.

Procurement procedures, regulations and methods for infrastructure development/maintenance are quite inefficient and wasteful, requiring a major overhaul/cleanup.

All of the usual big government-loving suspects are involved in pushing this scheme- The Ventura County Transportation Commission, Ventura County Supervisors, Democrat Party, leftwing newspapers. They even claim that a “survey” shows 67% of people approve of paying even more. 66 2/3% + is needed to pass, so let’s work on educating people to stop this outrage.  There have been two unsuccessful past attempts to pass this. Let’s go for three.

Please vote NO on Ventura County  Measure AA

Other notes

Many CA mass transit initiatives have not had acceptance/adoption by the public, because they are inconvenient, slow, uncomfortable, extremely expensive and often unsafe/crime-ridden. Local bus organizations only take in about 20 cents for every dollar in expenses. Guess who pays the rest? They are financial black holes. Trains are in the same class. People prefer cars, including innovative approaches such as ride sharing, Uber, Lyft, extended rentals. Planners and officials would like to see more “walkable” communities, needing less car use, which is fine- but such projects should pay for themselves, not be funded by subsidies.

The root justification for many of these initiatives is “climate change,” which has been vastly exaggerated and blamed on manmade “Global Warming” attributed to “carbon” consumption. This has been largely debunked, but is currently quite “politically correct.”

Fuel tax revenue growth did taper off as gas prices dropped, but is on the way up again. Some of the tax is a fixed amount per gallon. Vehicle miles also leveled off during the Great Recession, but are rebounding somewhat. Vehicle mileage has improved, slowing the growth of gasoline/diesel fuel consumption. And now, the bureaucrats  and statists want a new tax by the mile.  But what nobody’s talking about is that the statists want to reduce emissions by 50% (see SB350 and other legislation) and part of that involves a truly radical reduction in the use of cars- YOUR cars.



Roadshow: Could California’s gas tax be a thing of the past? –


New county transportation sales tax initiative approved for several city ballots so far

But taxes are already actually MUCH higher than most people think. See this Steve Frank article:

California gas taxes: Higher than advertised

To recap:

  • 39 cents for excise tax
  • 30-42 cents for sales tax
  • 10 cents for cap and trade “fee”—tax on a tax
  • 18.4 cents federal excise tax

The Ventura County Transportation Tax docs from 6-14-16 Oxnard City Council meeting:

Document: C-1 VCTC (pdf 17.6 MB)
Document: C-1 Ventura County Transportation Investment and Expenditure Plan (pdf  1,583KB)
Other CJ articles on this subject

George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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Proposition AA proposes that over 30 years $1.65 billion be returned to local jurisdictions for maintenance and improvement of local streets and transportation systems. Of the $1.65 billion, $367.9 million will go to the county. The amount that each city gets each year will be based on lane miles in the city with a $500,000 minimum. In the table below, the 2nd column of the table shows the amount in millions of dollars that each city will receive over 30 years based on lane miles.
It seems a fairer way to distribute money to the cities would be to base distributions on taxable sales. In 2014, Oxnard had 21.7% taxable sales but only receives 15.3% of the total distribution.

City|Lane Miles based|Taxable Transactions based
Fillmore |$22.7|$87.3
Moorpark |$56.9|$37.8
Ojai |$24.7|$12.3
Oxnard |$252.6|$278.0
Port Hueneme|$26.3|$9.6
San Buenaventura|$208.8|$236.7
Santa Paula|$33.6|$25.3
Simi Valley|$233.1|$163.8
Thousand Oaks|$280.9|$283.4

The taxable transactions for Fillmore are suspect. The Board of Equalization reported taxable transactions of $82.8 million in 2011, increasing to $785.0 million by 2014.

William "Bill" Hicks

Even in democrat dominated California similar propositions have failed. My guess is that this one will fail as well. While at the Thousand Oaks City Council Forum only one candidate was in favor of AA, and that was Anne LaFianza. She was also for everything that would increase the cost and control of government over as much of your daily life. Her, and Billy Martin are total rubes when it comes to the will of the people and how to manage city government.

Ron J

Money is needed to pay Gold Coast Transit retirees Pensions … 2.7% at 55…

Sheryl Hamlin

Just received a letter in mail from AAA endorsing it. Ridiculous. All monies go to the west side of county, very little for transit and huge administrative costs. Also received a flyer showing old people needing transit … they must not live in Ventura county! And AA will barely make a dent.

Bruce Boyer

Very thorough and well done George. We will be rolling out the stop the $3 billion in newsales taxes campaign! do not call it a 1/2 cent tax that is part of the lie. Nobody is paying a half of a cent.

William "Bill" Hicks

Like so many other taxes made for progressive purposes, it’s a theft of wealth and puts a wider gap between rich and poor.