The Ventura County Economic Development Association may reconsider its position on two ballot propositions to raise taxes to fund public education after the county’s community college district officially yanked its $10,000 title sponsorship of a popular business outlook conference hosted by the group.
The group, more commonly known as VCEDA, has hosted an annual business outlook conference for the past 42 years, drawing hundreds of attendees from business, education and government. This year’s working theme is “Business and Education: A Partnership for the Future.”
But VCEDA’s recent decision to oppose both Prop. 30 and Prop. 38, competing tax measures designed to prevent further cuts to public education, ticked off a firestorm. The Business Times reported Sept. 17 that the Ventura Community College District had threatened to pull its sponsorship and leave the board of the economic group.
The move by the college district is now official. It sent a formal letter to ask for a refund of its $10,000 title sponsorship of the conference slated for Nov. 7 and has withdrawn its association membership, Bill Buratto, VCEDA’s president, told the Business Times on Sept. 19. VCEDA’s board is composed of mostly business leaders but also contains representatives from California Lutheran University, CSU Channel Islands and Pepperdine University.
Following the feedback from the county’s community colleges and other education groups, Burratto told the Business Times on Sept. 19 that VCEDA’s executive committee has decided to bring the issue back to the board at its next meeting on Tuesday Sept. 25. VCEDA will host a presenter in support of the two proposition as well as one against, and then throw the issue back to the board, which may decide to leave the issue as-is. A board member can also call for a revote.
Buratto said he received a letter dated Sept. 14 from the community college district’s chancellor’s office indicating that the schools are withdrawing their VCEDA membership and conference sponsorship.
A media spokeswoman for the chancellor’s office did not return numerous calls from the Business Times made over several days seeking comment for this story.