Thirty years ago today, Ronald Reagan delivered this incredible 4th of July address in New York Harbor. It was, like most Reagan speeches, excellent:

In a few moments the celebration will begin here in New York Harbor. It's going to be quite a show. I was just looking over the preparations and thinking about a saying that we had back in Hollywood about never doing a scene with kids or animals because they'd steal the scene every time. So, you can rest assured I wouldn't even think about trying to compete with a fireworks display, especially on the Fourth of July.

My remarks tonight will be brief, but it's worth remembering that all the celebration of this day is rooted in history. It's recorded that shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia celebrations took place throughout the land, and many of the former Colonists -- they were just starting to call themselves Americans -- set off cannons and marched in fife and drum parades.

What a contrast with the sober scene that had taken place a short time earlier in Independence Hall. Fifty-six men came forward to sign the parchment. It was noted at the time that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. And that was more than rhetoric; each of those men knew the penalty for high treason to the Crown. ``We must all hang together,'' Benjamin Franklin said, ``or, assuredly, we will all hang separately.'' And John Hancock, it is said, wrote his signature in large script so King George could see it without his spectacles. They were brave. They stayed brave through all the bloodshed of the coming years. Their courage created a nation built on a universal claim to human dignity, on the proposition that every man, woman, and child had a right to a future of freedom.

For just a moment, let us listen to the words again: ``We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.'' Last night when we rededicated Miss Liberty and relit her torch, we reflected on all the millions who came here in search of the dream of freedom inaugurated in Independence Hall. We reflected, too, on their courage in coming great distances and settling in a foreign land and then passing on to their children and their children's children the hope symbolized in this statue here just behind us: the hope that is America. It is a hope that someday every people and every nation of the world will know the blessings of liberty.

And it's the hope of millions all around the world. In the last few years, I've spoken at Westminster to the mother of Parliaments; at Versailles, where French kings and world leaders have made war and peace. I've been to the Vatican in Rome, the Imperial Palace in Japan, and the ancient city of Beijing. I've seen the beaches of Normandy and stood again with those boys of Pointe du Hoc, who long ago scaled the heights, and with, at that time, Lisa Zanatta Henn, who was at Omaha Beach for the father she loved, the father who had once dreamed of seeing again the place where he and so many brave others had landed on D-day. But he had died before he could make that trip, and she made it for him. ``And, Dad,'' she had said, ``I'll always be proud.''



Written by By Patrick Buchanan

Before the lynching of The Donald proceeds, what exactly was it he said about that Hispanic judge?

Stated succinctly, Donald Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a class-action suit against Trump University, is sticking it to him.

And the judge's bias is likely rooted in the fact that he is of Mexican descent.

Can there be any defense of a statement so horrific?

Just this. First, Trump has a perfect right to be angry about the judge's rulings and to question his motives. Second, there are grounds for believing Trump is right.

On May 27, Curiel, at the request of The Washington Post, made public plaintiff accusations against Trump University — that the whole thing was a scam. The Post, which Bob Woodward tells us has 20 reporters digging for dirt in Trump's past, had a field day.

And who is Curiel? [Read the original article here



The Ventura County Women’s Political Council (VCWPC) will present a workshop on Fundraising Techniques & Strategies, Saturday, June 18, 2016, 9-11:30 a.m. at California Lutheran University-Oxnard Campus, 2201 Outlet Center Drive #600, Oxnard.

Nonprofit fundraising expert Steve Willmont, a Vice President with Netzel Grigsby Associates, will present Fundraising Best Practices learned from working with California nonprofits over the last 32 years. This presentation will be interactive with storytelling as well as question and answer activities.

Cheryl Heitmann, Ventura City Councilmember, will share her personal experience and expertise of over 20 years in political campaign fundraising as co-owner of DC Group and nearly 10 years as an Executive Director of a nonprofit.

“VCWPC is proud to offer this workshop to increase attendee's confidence in fundraising,” said Ana Del Rio-Barba, VCWPC President. “Whether you are fundraising for a political campaign or for your favorite charity, our goal is to empower attendees with the knowledge that will help you become more successful.”

Members $15, Non-members $20. Space is limited. Register online

VCWPC is a multi-partisan organization whose objective is to achieve equality for all women. We encourage, recruit, train and support women candidates who will advance the goals of VCWPC and bring women's perspectives to every issue, foremost including reproductive health; and social, educational, environmental and economic justice.

Highlights of previous presentations in the VCWPC Leadership Workshop Series can be found on the Ventura County Women’s Political Council YouTube Channel.


As your elected member of the California State Board of Equalization, I want to congratulate you on obtaining a new permit from the Board. Businesses like yours are the backbone of our economy. Each year they provide jobs for millions of California workers. At considerable effort and expense, they also collect billions in tax revenue for the State of California—with no compensation and little recognition for these efforts.

Business owners like you deserve our appreciation and respect.
Unfortunately, doing business in California has become increasingly difficult. To be successful, businesses like yours must navigate numerous complicated tax laws and regulations. Even the smallest oversight or mistake can result in significant penalties.

Please know that my staff and I are here to help you.
Each and every day we have the distinct pleasure of serving as taxpayer advocates for Californians. Our goal is to ensure taxpayers like you are treated fairly.

If you are starting a new business in California, my staff is available to meet with you at your business location to provide a free personal consultation aimed at helping your business avoid tax problems in the future.

To learn more or request a consultation, visit or call my office at (661) 723-8469 or (916) 445-2181.


Retiring member Supervisor Kathy Long, who represents the 3rd District, has endorsed Carla Castilla to take her seat on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. The Castilla campaign’s momentum surges forward as it continues to build a diverse coalition of Teachers, Nurses, Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Ventura County leaders, and Community Activists.

“Carla Castilla’s leadership, experience, and proven record to build a diverse coalition of support demonstrates the qualities needed to be an effective Supervisor,” said Supervisor Kathy Long. “Over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with Carla on local, State and Federal issues that have an impact on Ventura County, and she has always delivered for the benefit of our community. She is widely supported, earning the endorsements from law enforcement, nurses, educators, working families and other county leaders. It is clear, that Carla is an excellent candidate to represent the residents of the Third District.”

After a nearly 40-year career in public service, Kathy Long announced her retirement from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors at the end of this year when her fifth-term on the Board is complete. Kathy Long is retiring as the longest-serving member of the Board of Supervisors. She has been Supervisor of the 3rd District for almost two decades.

“It is an honor to receive the endorsement of Supervisor Kathy Long” said Castilla. “After 20 years representing families of the 3rd District, Supervisor Kathy Long’s retirement leaves a leadership void that will be tough to fill. Kathy has done an incredible job of serving the community and has successfully balanced the diverse needs of constituents from the five cities in the County. She has been a real inspiration in her dedication to good government, coalition building, and her statesman leadership will be missed. I am very proud that Supervisor Kathy Long has the confidence in me to continue in her footsteps.”

Carla Castilla currently serves as the District Director for State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson. She previously worked as a representative to Congresswoman Lois Capps and as an aide in the White House under the Clinton Administration. She is a former member of the Ventura County Workforce Investment Board, and she has a long history of involvement with local non-profit and community groups, especially those that focus on education, civic engagement, and the empowerment of women.

Carla has worked on a wide range of issues such as the recently passed California Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act and the California Fair Pay Act.

Ventura County’s 3rd Supervisorial District includes the communities of Camarillo, Port Hueneme, Southeast Oxnard, East Oxnard Plain, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, East Lockwood Valley, and Eastern Portion of Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme. For a complete list of endorsements and to learn more about Carla’s campaign visit

Agency cites improved traffic analysis, corrective measures over 10 years

VENTURA COUNTY, CA - The number of traffic collisions on County roads has dropped by almost 40% in a decade, the Ventura County Public Works Agency (VCPWA) announced recently. The trend toward fewer accidents has mostly been downward since the County started a coordinated effort to analyze and respond to traffic-collision patterns 10 years ago.

According to data collected by the VCPWA Transportation Department, the number of collisions on unincorporated County roads has decreased over 39% since 2006. The data also identifies the intersections and stretches of roadway with significant collisions. Using this information, VCPWA developed a number of corrective actions to reduce collisions in high-impact areas.

The data showed that:

• With the exception of the years 2012-2014, the number of collisions on County roads has steadily been declining from a high of 950 to a historic low last year of 577.
• The top three reasons for collisions were: improper turning, driving at unsafe speed (which can include low-speed rear-end collisions), and driving under the influence.
• The roads with the most collisions included Potrero Road between Port Hueneme and the Thousand Oaks city limit, Rose Avenue from SR-118 to Simon Way, and Rice Avenue from East Fifth Street to Channel Islands Boulevard.
• The intersections with the most collisions are Central and Santa Clara Avenues, Los Posas and Hueneme Roads, and Harbor Boulevard and Gonzales Road.

“The data we have collected over the past decade has been extraordinarily helpful in finding solutions to traffic collisions,” said Jeff Pratt, VCPWA Director. “By indicating overall collisions and pinpointing problem areas, we have been able to construct specific ways to slow down or divert traffic, and make driving and walking in Ventura County safer.”

The County has addressed the roadways with the highest accident rates with a number of improvements, such as adding traffic signs and lane striping, signal installation, and road widening. Many of these changes, like creating a left-turn lane at the intersection of Central and Santa Clara Avenues, reduced rear-end collisions by 40% in just six months.

The data collected comes from an annual traffic safety analysis. The VCPWA Transportation Department uses data from the local California Highway Patrol offices and the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System to develop a profile of collisions in the County.

“Thanks to a more sophisticated analysis of traffic, we’ve been able to identify a number of effective corrective treatments at high-impact intersections and road segments,” said Richard Herrera, VCPWA Traffic Engineer. “As we move forward, we will be able to get even greater insight into traffic patterns and accidents as the County changes.”


Last week, Jan. 22, Carrie Broggie, Mayor Pro Tem represented the city of Fillmore in Sacramento at the League of California Cities’ first policy committee meetings in 2016. Broggie serves on the Public Safety Committee, which is integral to the League’s policy-making process.

“My city benefits from the League’s policy committees because we are able to weigh in on issues that will affect our budgets and shape future policies. Without these meetings our influence on the state’s decisions would be greatly diminished,” said Carrie Broggie.

Commander Chris Dunn, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spoke on the urgent need for stricter regulations on drones. Chief Pat McElroy, Santa Barbara Fire Department discussed the public safety impacts of the misrouting of 911 calls. Also, there were discussions on local control of medical marijuana, dispensaries and growing marijuana for medicinal use and planning for the likelihood that the recreational use of marijuana will become legal if it is on the ballot in November.

“These meetings provide an opportunity for city officials to learn about statewide proposals affecting California cities and have their voices heard by the League and translated into direct advocacy efforts,” said League Executive Director Chris McKenzie.

There are eight standing League policy committees including Administrative Services, Community Services, Employee Relations, Environmental Quality, Housing, Community and Economic Development, Public Safety, Revenue and Taxation, and Transportation, Communications, and Public Works. These committees evaluate proposed legislation as it related to existing policy and make recommendations for legislation where the League currently does not have policy.

The League's policy-making process allows the issues facing California cities to be debated and the organization's policy directions to be established. Close to 400 city officials serve on the League's policy committees and add their collective expertise, wisdom and opinions to the policy debate that is the foundation of League policy. The recommendations from the policy committee are forwarded to the League board of directors.
Following the January meetings in Sacramento, the League’s policy committees will meet April 7-8 in San Diego, June 2-3 in Sacramento and in October during the League’s annual conference in Long Beach as needed.

For more information on the League’s policy development process please visit its website at

Established in 1898, the League of California Cities is a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for cities with the state and federal governments and provides education and training services to elected and appointed city officials.


Sacramento - Governor Brown has signed legislation sponsored by Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner that, after nearly two decades, provides a regulatory framework for California's medical marijuana industry. The legislation (SB 643, AB 266, and AB 243) will go into effect beginning January 1, 2016.

"This regulatory package provides much-needed state oversight of the medical marijuana industry while recognizing that every California community is different," said Runner. "The new laws will help improve public safety and bring about greater tax compliance."

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, also known as the "Compassionate Use Act," making California the first state to legalize medical marijuana. However, during the nearly two decades that followed, all prior legislative attempts to regulate the medical marijuana industry failed.

"I'm pleased the governor realized the need for this important legislation," added Runner. "This regulatory structure is long overdue."

SB 643 was authored by Senator McGuire, AB 266 by Assemblymembers Bonta, Cooley, Jones-Sawyer, Lackey and Wood, and AB 243 by Assemblymember Wood.

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


Sacramento - Governor Brown has signed legislation sponsored by Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner that, after nearly two decades, provides a regulatory framework for California's medical marijuana industry. The legislation (SB 643, AB 266, and AB 243) will go into effect beginning January 1, 2016.

"This regulatory package provides much-needed state oversight of the medical marijuana industry while recognizing that every California community is different," said Runner. "The new laws will help improve public safety and bring about greater tax compliance."

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, also known as the "Compassionate Use Act," making California the first state to legalize medical marijuana. However, during the nearly two decades that followed, all prior legislative attempts to regulate the medical marijuana industry failed.

"I'm pleased the governor realized the need for this important legislation," added Runner. "This regulatory structure is long overdue."

SB 643 was authored by Senator McGuire, AB 266 by Assemblymembers Bonta, Cooley, Jones-Sawyer, Lackey and Wood, and AB 243 by Assemblymember Wood.

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

Protects Children in Day Care

The State Assembly today approved SB 792 authored by Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) on a bipartisan vote. The bill will protect California children in day care from contracting serious diseases by requiring family day care home and day care center workers and volunteers to be vaccinated against measles, pertussis, and influenza. The bill now goes back to the State Senate for a concurrence vote and then to Governor Brown for consideration.

“I am very pleased SB 792 was approved today with overwhelming bipartisan support by the State Assembly,” said Senator Tony Mendoza.

“With the deadly outbreaks of measles and influenza this year, we must do everything in our power to protect California’s children who spend time in day care. One child’s death is one too many, especially when it may be preventable,” added Mendoza.

As recently as the year 2000, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had declared that measles was eliminated (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) from the United States. This was made possible due to a highly effective vaccination program and better measles control.

However, from December 28, 2014 to April 10, 2015, there have been 134 confirmed cases of measles in California according to the California Department of Public Health. The outbreak likely originated from a traveler who became infected overseas with measles and visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California while contagious. Additional cases emerged, including a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) passenger with measles who travelled from Millbrae to San Francisco, potentially exposing more than 1500 riders. For influenza, in 2013-2014, there were 404 confirmed deaths, including ten pediatric deaths of which three were under the age of five.

“Disease outbreaks of measles, once thought to have been eradicated in the United States, have resurfaced. As a consequence, public health officials have been sounding the alarm that more should be done to protect the most vulnerable populations such as children and seniors,” said Senator Mendoza.

SB 792 protects young, vulnerable children by requiring caregivers at day care centers and family day care homes to be immunized against influenza, pertussis, and measles. Currently, there are no immunization requirements for day care workers. The bill allows for circumstances under which a person would be exempt from the immunization requirement, based on medical safety, current immunity or declining the influenza vaccination.

“My bill will require all day care center and family day care home personnel to be vaccinated. This is not just a common sense solution, but makes scientific sense,” added Senator Mendoza.

“The health officers want to thank Senator Mendoza for authoring this groundbreaking bill. It will help protect our most vulnerable citizens – infants and small children – from life-threatening communicable diseases, some of whom are too young to be vaccinated,” said Kat DeBurgh, MPH, Executive Director of the Health Officers Association of California, the sponsors of the bill.

Children in day care settings have close, intimate contact with each other and with the staff who work there. Until they are fully vaccinated, children rely on those around them to maintain their immunizations to stop the spread of disease. Many of these children are too young to be fully immunized against potentially serious communicable diseases. Children are vaccinated against diseases according to a schedule determined by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

According to this schedule, children are immunized against measles at age 12 months and receive the first dose of vaccine against pertussis (whooping cough) at age two months, which takes multiple doses for immunity to be fully effective. Children may also receive the annual flu vaccine at six months of age. Some diseases, such as the flu, may cause only a relative inconvenience to most healthy adults. However, this same disease can require hospitalization and perhaps even be fatal for an infant or an individual with a suppressed immune system.

“Children under the age of five are one of the most vulnerable age groups for contracting infection and developing complications from these very serious diseases, so it is critical that we use all available methods to protect them,” said Senator Mendoza.

Senator Tony Mendoza, a Los Angeles native and former elementary school teacher in East Los Angeles, represents the 32nd Senate District encompassing portions of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. For more information about Senator Mendoza visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

"To help our constituents and our community through courteous, friendly, non-judgmental service and to help educate and lead the next generation of leaders."


California lawmakers are finally considering legislation to regulate medical marijuana, which has been legal under state law for nearly two decades. Among the proposals is a bill calling for an excise tax on marijuana that could raise nearly $60 million in revenue each year.

As a fiscal conservative and opponent of recreational marijuana, I’m an unlikely voice in the cannabis tax policy debate. Yet after speaking with parties on all sides of the issue, I’m convinced an excise tax on medical marijuana could make sense, and if done correctly, would help ensure California taxpayers are treated fairly.

I’m the first to admit that government is too bloated and that Californians are overtaxed. But the fundamental question here is who should pay the steep costs of marijuana-related activities that include trespass on public lands, water theft and unregulated use of pesticides.

Simply put: Why should those who don’t use marijuana pay the environmental costs associated with growing marijuana?

More funding is needed. Law enforcement officials are urging California to bolster its efforts to address the unintended consequences of legalizing marijuana for medical use at the state level. The rampant spread of unregulated marijuana grows have stretched local law enforcement thin in many communities around the state.

An excise tax on marijuana would provide local law enforcement with the revenue needed to combat these crimes. Local governments would be better able to respond to complaints related to cannabis grown and sold in their communities.

Revenue collected from a marijuana excise tax should not go to the state’s general fund—where lawmakers can spend those dollars on their pet projects. The revenue should be placed in a special fund where monies would be protected and only spent to combat marijuana-related crime, corruption and environmental damage.

While curbing crime is a worthy goal, lawmakers shouldn’t overreach. Setting the tax too high could backfire by harming industry participants willing to play by the rules. An unreasonable tax rate would cause an increase in the marijuana black market and drive the industry further underground.

As an elected tax official, it’s my job to make sure taxpayers are treated fairly. An excise tax on medical marijuana would ensure the medical marijuana industry and its end users—rather than ordinary California taxpayers—pay the costs of combating marijuana-related crimes.

Medical marijuana is already subject to sales tax—that’s been a settled issue for quite some time. Excise taxes are imposed on a specific good, typically at the wholesale or distributor level. The Board of Equalization currently collects excise taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products, but not on marijuana.

Some might resist the call for a new tax, and normally I’d be with them. However, we as a society have agreed that certain shared priorities like police, schools and roads should be a government priority. Taxes provide funding for these shared priorities.

The question is who should pay for needed enforcement efforts? I think the cannabis industry and its users should, not California taxpayers who don’t use marijuana.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a taxpayer advocate and elected member of the State Board of Equalization where he serves as Vice Chair. For more information, visit

As seen in the Fresno Bee, Redding Record Searchlight and The Desert Independent

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but something is rotten with road funding in California.

Sacramento is flush with billions in unanticipated revenue. Yet a record $115 billion budget spending plan signed by Gov. Jerry Brown shortchanges the state's transportation and infrastructure needs. The only real funding boost goes to high-speed rail.

Budgets reflect priorities, and this shows that fixing roads is not a priority to Democratic legislators. Instead of fixing deteriorating freeways, some liberal lawmakers still hope Californians will give up their cars and ride mass transit.

But tax-and-spend politicians sense an opportunity. By starving road maintenance budgets, they hope to create public pressure for tax increases. Rather than curb wasteful spending, they want to have their cake and eat it, too.

Call it the "pothole strategy." It's similar to when the federal government closes the Washington Monument or school districts force teachers to buy their supplies. These highly visible actions appeal to people's emotions and can generate public support for higher taxes.

I hope Californians will not fall for this trick.

The governor's recent call for a special session of the Legislature on road funding provides an opportunity for lawmakers to push for higher road taxes. And Brown has now indicated that his promise to require a public vote on new taxes was for his first term only.

It will only take a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and the governor's signature to raise your taxes.
Already this year, Democratic lawmakers have proposed new road-user charges and higher gas taxes aimed at generating billions in new revenue.

What's particularly frustrating about these efforts is that Californians are paying more gas taxes this year. California's mysterious cap-and-trade auction on carbon emissions is bringing in billions in new revenue.

Since Jan. 1, much of this funding comes courtesy of California motorists who pay a new "hidden gas tax" on tailpipe emissions. It's called a "hidden tax" because no one seems to know how much it actually is, though most experts seem to agree it's at least 10 cents a gallon.

So far, not a dime of the money collected has been used to improve our roads. Rather policymakers are directing billions to pet projects, like high-speed rail, and favored constituencies.

Due to high taxes, unique regulations and limited refining capacity, California gas prices are higher than nearly all other states. California's gas prices this year have at times exceeded the national average by more than a dollar per gallon!

Over a 10-year period leading up to 2014, sales and excise tax revenues from fuel sales grew by nearly 35% - from $6.5 billion to a record $8.7 billion. Due to a complicated formula the Legislature enacted five years ago, Californians have been overpaying tax. That's why my colleagues and I on the Board of Equalization lowered the gas tax by 6 cents per gallon as of July 1.

If you hear complaints about transportation funding cuts resulting from this rate cut, keep in mind that local governments essentially received their funding sooner than they would have otherwise. It's like a payday advance. When you get paid early, you shouldn't complain about not getting a second paycheck on the regular payday. Neither should government.

Instead of raising taxes, lawmakers ought to use the upcoming special session on roads to:
• Identify and eliminate bureaucratic waste and mismanagement that drives up the cost of transportation projects.
• Close loopholes that allow diversion of transportation dollars. Prioritize spending to ensure funding for highways, roads and other vital infrastructure needs.
• Direct cap-and-trade revenues to fighting emission-causing traffic congestion and gridlock by expanding roads and building new ones.
• Repeal the confusing "gas tax swap" and restore a fuel tax system that is clear and easy for the public to understand at the pump.
• Direct the California Transportation Commission's Road Charge Pilot Program to consider only revenue-neutral alternatives to the gas tax system.

If, after taking these actions, the governor and Legislature remain convinced of the need for higher tax to fund roads, they should put forward their best plan and let voters decide. Giving the public a chance to weigh in on the issue, however, doesn't let lawmakers off the hook who got us into this situation by grossly mismanaging taxpayer dollars.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a taxpayer advocate and elected member of the State Board of Equalization where he serves as Vice Chair. For more information, visit


There’s been no shortage of attempts in recent years in the State Legislature to overhaul Proposition 13—California’s landmark initiative protecting homeowners and small business owners from out of control property taxes.

Multiple bills have taken aim at the proposition, but the most popular among these bills pushes the so-called “split roll” property tax, which would eliminate Prop. 13 protections for job creators but leave them in place for homeowners. This split roll idea is especially favored by lawmakers who are eager to bring more money into state coffers.

Given that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, it seems a bit out of touch, if not downright greedy, for lawmakers to focus on funding government instead of making sure there are economic opportunities for everyone.

A recent study from Pepperdine University shows that split roll would increase property taxes on businesses by an estimated $6 billion. But the same study also shows that split roll could trigger the loss of nearly 400,000 jobs and cost California’s economy a total of $71.8 billion in output within the first five years.

That $71.8 billion loss would cause some serious harm to our fragile economy. Companies seeking to grow and add new jobs need a stable tax base. Why re-impose such financial instability at such a volatile time for our state?

Supporters of split roll often point to the “lost revenue” they claim has been caused by Prop. 13. That’s a misleading argument. Yes, property taxes are a major source of state revenue, but Prop. 13 opponents won’t tell you that even with taxpayer protections, actual property tax revenue has grown steadily since voters approved Prop. 13 in 1978.

For the fiscal year of 2014-2015 property taxes accounted for $52 billion in revenue. That’s up from $34.2 billion for the fiscal year of 2004-2005. Prop. 13 is not starving government.
Opponents of Prop. 13 put too much focus on large corporations that maintain property in California. They say these corporations unduly benefit from Prop. 13’s protections. However, the simple truth of the matter is that if split roll were to pass, it’s the smaller businesses in your community that would be hit the hardest.

And despite public opinion polls that suggest there’s a willingness to tweak Prop.13, a recent PPIC poll shows support has dwindled for making changes to the law. Today, 50% percent of likely voters say they favor split roll taxes, while 44% say they oppose. That’s down from 60% of likely voters in 2012.

Let’s not forget the reason why Prop. 13 passed in the first place: In the 1970’s county governments up and down the state routinely raised property tax rates, in many cases forcing families, especially those on fixed incomes, out of their homes. Left with no other alternative, Californians overwhelmingly passed Prop 13.

There is a valid point to be made for closing a loophole related to Proposition 13. Today, a few bad actors purposefully manipulate the change of ownership paperwork when buying and selling properties in order to escape property tax reassessments. I’m open to closing that loophole, and so is the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

But there’s no reason to gut Prop. 13’s tax protections for homeowners and businesses alike, and usher in massive, job-killing property tax increases. It’s clear that most Californians agree.
The business owners and homeowners I hear from every day want, and deserve, stability and certainty in our tax code. Given their contributions to California’s economy, that’s the least we can do.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a taxpayer advocate and elected member of the State Board of Equalization.


SACRAMENTO – Senator Sharon Runner (R-Antelope Valley) announced today she is authoring legislation that would make sex-offender residency restrictions more workable, while keeping the integrity of voter approved Jessica’s Law intact. Senate Bill 54 is designed to clarify any confusion caused by In Re Taylor, the recent decision of the California Supreme Court regarding CDCR’s enforcement of sex offenders in San Diego County.

“The residency restrictions in Jessica’s Law provide important protection and peace of mind for California’s families,” said Runner. “Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court decision does not provide county governments with the ability to protect these voter approved residency restrictions when possible and expedite relief when necessary.”

Specifically, SB 54 provides that the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of each county would have primary jurisdiction to consolidate and hear petitions challenging the 2000 foot residency restriction as laid out in Jessica’s Law. The Court would grant relief if it was established that there was a pervasive lack of compliant housing in the subject county.

SB 54 also clarifies how 2,000 feet should be measured and ensures that only violent sex offenders are subject to the restriction.

Runner authored voter-approved Jessica’s Law along with her husband, Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner, in 2006. In addition to mandatory residency restrictions for sex offenders, the comprehensive law increased penalties for the most egregious sex offenses and provides law enforcement with more tools to impede, apprehend and incarcerate sex offenders.

SB 54 will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

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


As a lifelong conservative, I’m no fan of government regulation. Even so, I’m convinced it’s time for California to aggressively regulate the medical marijuana industry.

I’ve spoken with concerned citizens, local government officials, rural law enforcement officers, federal officials, anti-drug crusaders and medical marijuana industry insiders.

I even visited the Emerald Triangle with fellow Board of Equalization (BOE) Member Fiona Ma. Our April tour showed how we can work with the industry to generate greater voluntary compliance with California law.

The current cash-based system is dangerous. Crime, corruption and tax evasion are far too common. Murder and armed robbery rates in California’s rural counties have skyrocketed as the cannabis industry has grown. The FBI and US Attorney are investigating and prosecuting local law enforcement officials at staggering rates for taking cash bribes.

These problems stem in part from ongoing conflict between state and federal laws. Nearly 19 years ago California voters approved Proposition 215, making medical marijuana legal under state law, even while it remained illegal under federal law.

Cannabis has become readily available to the seriously ill—and anyone who has an hour to visit a “doctor” to get a recommendation and a “215 card.” Freeway billboards advertise local dispensaries, while apps provide for doorstep delivery. During this time, federal raids and prosecutions have waxed and waned depending on the political climate in D.C.

There’s no state regulation, just a patchwork of local rules. True, the California Department of Public Health runs a voluntary identification card program for patients and caregivers, but it has no jurisdiction over retail dispensaries or the production industry.

A better structure would be what Californians voted for in 1996. Proposition 215 sought to “encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.”

State rules would help law enforcement distinguish the good actors from the bad, leading to improved public safety. Rules would help stem the tide of rural murders, armed robberies and public corruption, allowing for a more effective use of limited law enforcement dollars. Local governments would be able to better respond to complaints related to cannabis grown and sold in their communities.

One irony of the status quo is that tax evasion deprives governments of the funds it needs to enforce laws already on the books.

As an elected tax official, it’s my job to ensure the collection of taxes owed the state. Cash-based businesses are very difficult for BOE to audit, especially when we can’t get records of their wholesale transactions. It’s also a huge safety risk to have dispensaries pay their taxes by carrying duffle bags into state offices with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

A new BOE effort, the Cannabis Compliance Pilot Project, aims to determine the scope of noncompliance and develop strategies to address compliance barriers. A report is due in November.

We won’t solve this problem on our own.

The good news is state lawmakers appear ready to do their part. A recent bipartisan vote for Assembly Bill 266 is a sign that lawmakers see the need for a regulatory structure.

The federal government must also act. Under current federal law, it’s nearly impossible for those in the medical marijuana industry to have bank accounts.

Some fear that regulating the medical marijuana industry will pave the way for full legalization of recreational marijuana—I disagree. One can oppose recreational marijuana, as I do, while recognizing the reality of the current situation. To improve public safety and tax compliance, we need greater state structure and oversight.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a taxpayer advocate and elected member of the State Board of Equalization.


Sacramento - Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner issued the following statement in response to the budget passed by Legislative Democrats today:

"I find it unbelievable that despite Governor Brown's calls for restraint, Legislative Democrats have crafted a budget that spends $2 billion more than what the governor proposed. This demonstrates that the majority party hasn't learned from past mistakes and is out of touch with what California taxpayers really want: value for their money."

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


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


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

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


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