Supervisors say November ballot initiative is about conducting study, not seceding from state | New

San Bernardino County leaders recently caused a stir when they voted to place an initiative on the November ballot asking voters if they want the county to secede from California.

But it turns out the initiative isn’t as concerned with the idea of ​​secession as it is with commissioning a study that could lead to the county getting more state aid.

In an op-ed, supervisors Curt Hagman and Dawn Rowe said the county receives less in return for the taxpayer money it sends to Sacramento than the state’s major urban centers.

“In the Nov. 8 ballot, the Fair-Share initiative will give San Bernardino County voters the opportunity to ask the Board of Supervisors to determine if and to what extent our communities are not getting our fair share of resources from the state, and to pursue every means available to ensure that our county gets the most out of our tax dollars in the future,” Hagman and Rowe said.

One strategy to achieve that goal would be California’s secession by forming a new state or joining another state, they said.

However, “this possible option would be very difficult to achieve”, acknowledged Hagman and Rowe.

In fact, secession would be an extremely unlikely outcome, even though some county residents (including Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren) have come out in favor of it.

“At its core, the San Bernardino County Fair Share Initiative is about a study, and it’s about effective engagement with state decision makers,” Hagman and Rowe said. “Exploring secession would be a distant last resort. However, not having this in our toolbox indicates that we are not as determined and committed as we need to be to defend our communities.

“A thorough study, approved by voters, will allow the county to glean data that will help us develop more effective strategies to ensure the proper return on our taxes and the good policies our residents deserve.”

The county does not yet know how much such a study would cost, said San Bernardino County Public Information Officer David Wert.

“If the measure is passed, the Board of Supervisors will provide direction to staff on the scope of the study. Some of the information may already be in the county’s possession, while other may need to be collected and processed,” said Wert.

The county does not need voter approval to conduct this study. “However, the board believes it’s important to engage the public on this topic and have their support,” Wert said.

A preliminary review of state data shows that although San Bernardino County has the fifth-largest population, it is in the bottom third of the 58 counties for funding, Hagman and Rowe said.

“This inequity needs to be investigated,” they said.

They said policies adopted at the state level often seem to reflect the specific priorities and needs of the state’s major urban centers more than they reflect the priorities and needs of San Bernardino County and the rest of California, and this is especially true in the region. of public safety.

“The state’s focus on alternatives to incarceration without the necessary community support has created a wave of violent crimes in San Bernardino County perpetrated by people who should be in jail,” they said. .

According to a recently released report, violent crime increased 13% in 2021 compared to 2020 in cities and areas contracting San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department law enforcement departments.

Supervisors hope that by voicing their concerns about the issues in detail, they will receive a positive response – and not need to begin the extraordinary task of separating from the state.

“San Bernardino County’s Fair Share Initiative is a constructive way for the people of America’s largest county to be heard, not just by their local leaders, but by everyone in California and across the country,” said Hagman and Rowe.

Denise W. Whigham