Backers of a proposed half-cent transportation sales tax measure on Ventura County’s Nov. 8 ballot have raised about $377,000 so far this year — roughly 12 times what opponents have collected.
A large chunk of the contributions to Measure AA’s campaign committee, Ventura County Citizens for Traffic Relief, have come from labor groups. The measure is being sponsored by the Ventura County Transportation Commission.
According to state campaign finance forms filed with the Ventura County Elections Division, the single largest contributor to the measure is a group called Southern California Partnership for Jobs, which donated $100,000.
The group is a partnership of labor and management based in Los Angeles County that advocates for infrastructure investment — which Measure AA would do — to create construction jobs, said the group’s executive director John Hakel. The group represents 2,750 contractors and 90,000 union workers, he said.
“Ventura County’s roads are in dismal repair and decades behind in maintenance,” Hakel said, “The critical need of the infrastructure is paramount for the safety of the public and their quality of life.
“This opportunity will also create many jobs and even careers,” he added.
Other large donors to the measure’s backers include the California District Council of Laborers Issues political action committee, which gave $50,000.
The Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters PAC gave $30,000. The Granite Construction Company, of Watsonville, donated $20,000. Meissner Filtration Products, based in Camarillo, gave $15,000, as did Auto Club Enterprises of Anaheim. Moffatt & Nichol, a Long Beach infrastructure advisory firm, donated $11,000.
The campaign committee opposing Measure AA, Stop New Big $3.3 Billion Tax, has raised about $32,000 year-to-date.
The largest single donation, $13,000, came from a group called Citizens for a Better Ventura County, which listed an Orange County address on the finance form. The group could not be reached for comment. A 2013 Star story said the group was funded primarily by landowners and businesses.
Other large contributors to the opposition committee include retired Rep. Elton Gallegly’s old, but surviving campaign committee, Gallegly for Congress, which donated $10,000. His committee has also lent opponents $5,000. Gallegly is one of the authors of the ballot argument against Measure AA, contending that its spending plan is “full of generalities and short on specifics.” Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, served in Congress from 1987-2013.
Another one of the authors is Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy, who contributed $2,500 to the opponents committee. Foy opposes the measure even though, as a member of the transportation commission’s board of directors, he voted in April with a majority of the other commissioners to try to place it on the ballot.
As a member of the Board of Supervisors, he voted in July to put it on the ballot. Foy has said that despite his opposition, he feels the measure should go before voters to decide.
Ted Weiner, of Simi Valley, president of TRC Medical, also contributed $2,500 in opposition to the measure.
The campaign finance forms reported donations made year-to-date through Sept. 24, though donations of $1,000 or more that were made after Sept. 24 were reported on supplemental forms within 24 hours as required by law.
The next filing period closes Oct. 22. There is no limit on how much a single entity, an individual or a group, can donate to a county initiative like Measure AA.
If passed, the measure is projected to raise about $3.3 billion over the next 30 years for transportation infrastructure that supporters say is not being maintained because of a lack of funds. The revenue would also finance bus and rail improvements.
Fifty percent would go to the county’s 10 cities to spend on local transportation priorities, including roads, backers say. The other 50 percent would remain with the commission for regional transportation priorities, including the widening of highways 101 and 118.
Under the California Constitution, county transportation finance ballot initiatives like Measure AA need the support of at least two-thirds of voters to win passage.
A 2004 Ventura County half-cent transportation sales tax measure fell far short of that threshold. It was rejected by voters 59 percent to 41 percent.
Nineteen of California’s 58 counties have a transportation sales tax, including every county in the Southern California Association of Governments except Ventura County, the measure’s proponents note.
Opponents have various concerns, including whether all the revenue the tax would generate would actually be spent on transportation. Other opponents argue the measure would lead to more development in the county.
Campaign finance reports for candidates and measures in Ventura County are available at: http://nf4.netfile.com/pub2/Default.aspx?aid=VCO.
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