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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 4:45 am | Fair 52º


Santa Barbara Forum Aims to Educate Residents on California Ballot Propositions

Christine Boesch and Shane Stark moderate panel for League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Christine Boesch and Shane Stark both served as the the emcees of a pros-and-cons session on state ballot measures hosted by the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara held a forum at the Santa Barbara Public Library this week highlighting the pros-and-cons of the statewide measures on California's November ballot.

The purpose of the event is to inform voters about the ballot measures, said Vijaya Jammalamadaka, the LWVSB’s vice president and local action and program member.

“The forum is nonpartisan — it’s simply educational,” Jammalamadaka said. “We promote voting, especially informed voting.”

The LWVSB does not support or oppose candidates or political parties, Jammalamadaka said. Rather, it encourages active participation in government and works to increase understanding of public policy issues, as well as influence public policy through education and advocacy.

According to the California Secretary of State, eligible Californians will vote on 11 ballot measures on Nov. 6.

A debated question on the California ballot is Proposition 6, a measure that would repeal the gas tax and vehicle fees enacted by Senate Bill 1, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. 

Since it was approved by the state Legislature in 2017, there have been a 12-cent increase for gasoline, a 20-cent hike for diesel and a new transportation fee was added to the cost of registering a vehicle, including a fee for electric cars starting in 2020.

“The funding loss will impact state highways, local streets, roads and mass transit,” said Christine Boesch, the emcee of the event. “Voter approval means likely long-term impacts from difficulty increasing fuel taxes.”

Boesch pointed out how California's official voter information guide notes that U.S. News & World Report rated the state 49th in road quality, 11th in bridge quality, and 46th in commute times among the 50 states.

“The transportation needs are great,” she said.

According to the official voter information guide, supporters of Proposition 6 argue that gas that fees and taxes are too high, fall the hardest on working families, and are unnecessary in a state that has a budget surplus.

Opponents of Proposition 6 insist reliable transportation infrastructure is critical for the economy, fuel taxes haven’t been raised in decades, and bad roads and unsafe bridges pose a safety threat to drivers, according to the official voter information guide from the California Secretary of State.

Voting “no” keeps the public infrastructure funding and California’s tax, and voting “yes” on Proposition 6 will repeal the gas tax.

“You’re going to see a lot of television commercials — ignore the television commercials…read the pros-and-cons and form a rational opinion,” said Shane Stark, president of the LWVSB Education Fund and emcee of the event.

The forum also covered Proposition 5, which removes the current requirements for homeowners who are over the age of 55 or severely disabled to transfer their property tax base to a replacement residence: that replacement property be of equal or lesser value, replacement residence be in a specific county, and the transfer occur only once, according to the official voter information guide.

Supporters of the proposition argue older adults on fixed incomes need this protection and more houses will become available for younger families.

Opponents believe essential local services and schools will be harmed, and loss of local revenue will become worse every year. 

The event weighed the pros-and-cons of Proposition 10, the measure that repeals the Costa Hawkins Rental Act, the state law that limits local government’s ability to enact rent control.

Supporters of Proposition 10 argue the high cost of rent hurts families, seniors and people with low or fixed income, and this proposition protects them.

Opponents, according to the official voter information guide, state that rent control laws reduce the amount of rental property available because landlords will stop renting and it discourages building.

Other propositions mentioned include topics such as regulating the cost of dialysis; authorizing bonds to fund specified housing assistance programs; requiring private-ambulance employees to remain on call during lunch and other breaks; abolishing daylight saving time; issuing $1.5 billion in bonds for children's hospitals and others.

For more information, read the official voter’s guide.

Tuesday’s nearly two-hour program was live streamed on the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara's Facebook and can be viewed online. The event also briefly covered Santa Barbara County measures on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“Your vote is the last line of defense in a democracy,” Stark said. “Please vote carefully, vote calmly, vote deliberately (and) take your time — please, take pride in your vote.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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