The Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties has announced its strong opposition to Proposition 15 on the June 8 ballot, a so-called “clean elections” pilot program that would actually raise taxes on employers.

“The alliance urges voters to read the fine print of Proposition 15,” alliance president Kristen Amyx said. “It looks like a tax on lobbyists, but it’s a lot more than that and will lead to such taxes being diverted to the state’s general fund — with no benefit to the electoral process.”

After careful review of the measure, the alliance determined that the initiative, placed on the ballot by the legislature, is a clear attempt to divert a new tax on lobbyists to fund a seemingly harmless pilot program for “clean elections.” However, the pilot program expires after just two elections, while the repeal on the public campaign financing ban is permanent.

Another hidden provision of Proposition 15 would allow legislators to use tax money for any campaigns they wish, including their own. All it takes is a simple majority vote.

Adding to the alliance’s concern, courts in Vermont and Arizona have overturned two similar voter-approved initiatives — in particular the funding mechanisms by taxing lobbyists and their clients. Proposition 15 is written in a way that public financing of campaigns can continue even if the funding provision is struck down.

In addition to the alliance, the following local chambers of commerce are also opposing Proposition 15: Camarillo, Carpinteria Valley, Goleta Valley, Oxnard and Ventura.

The Chambers of Commerce Alliance is a proactive advocacy coalition of seven chambers of commerce serving Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Click here for more information.

— Brendan Huffman is executive director of the Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.