Public Safety Tax Under Fire In California County

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Ventura County, Ca., long has favored the criminal justice system when it allocates public funds. Now that arrangement is under attack, the Los Angeles Times reports. An 8-year-old law gives proceeds from a special half-cent sales tax to four public safety departments – sheriff, district attorney, public defender, and probation.

Critics, the Times says, complain that the result is a “a gold-plated law enforcement empire that, until recently, got virtually whatever it asked for” while other county agencies must cope with declining budgets.

The county’s Board of Supervisors now wants to repeal the law, telling a court it puts the county’s financial future “in grave danger.” The court is considering a case by the sheriff and district attorney, who charge that supervisors illegally cut their funding two years ago. Steve Riley of the Resource Management Agency said law enforcement has been viewed as untouchable in a county that touts its safe environment, but that attitude is beginning to change.


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