California State Senate District 17

Each Candidate received these instructions.

Please return the questionnaire below by Wednesday, January 22, 2020 so we can share your

responses with the taxpayers of San Luis Obispo County before the upcoming March election.

Thank you for your participation.


The Questions are below the Candidate(s) Responses for easy reference.

John Peschong

1. I am, and have been a supporter of Proposition 13 as written. The passage of Proposition 13 was a benefit for all Californians who saw their taxes rise exponentially. The certainty provided by Prop. 13 is essential for homeowners and families. This is why I have been endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

2. I believe that Proposition 13 should remain as written. A “split roll” would put unnecessary stress on our county assessors, and increase incentives of Special Interest to further chip away at Prop. 13 protections.

3. No, I believe passing another school bond is the wrong way to address schools” funding issues”, we should instead focus on addressing spending priorities, and ensuring we are spending money meant for students on actual classrooms and not administrators

4. I believe that it is necessary to the integrity of our democratic system to hold these elected officials to the highest standard of accountability. Local government’s role is not in the education or advocacy of these campaigns. Resources are scarce as it is. Localities should not be spending money on elections in any capacity other than holding the election.

5. I’m opposed to these conversion laws. They are rushed, partisan and often exacerbate the energy crisis and weaken the economy, especially in areas of California where gas and oil are an important industry for many working families.

6. I support the existing private ownership of these regulated energy facilities, such as, PG&E, So Cal Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. A government takeover would just increase bureaucracy rather than address the underlying issues facing these facilities. 

Stephanie Shakofsky (No Response)


1.  Proposition 13 was passed by voters in 1978 to protect homeowners and property owners from runaway property taxes. It requires a 2/3ds vote of the local electorate to raise property taxes on residential and commercial properties and limits annual reassessment and adjustment of property taxes to 1% of assessed value. If a property is sold or transferred to new ownership, property may be reassessed to current value.  Proposition 13 prevented millions of property owners from losing their homes over the past 4 decades, but remains a target of groups seeking to raise additional revenues for government programs.  Proposition 13 also prohibited the Legislature from raising non-property taxes without a 2/3ds vote of the Legislature.  Do you support retention of Proposition 13 as is?

2.  Split Roll – Currently, 2 proposals are pending for the November 2020 general election ballot, to modify Proposition 13’s protections to eliminate the equal treatment of residential and commercial properties and allow for additional taxes to be imposed on commercial properties by a lower vote threshold than 2/3ds. This has been referred to as “the split roll,” because the measures would retain the current Proposition 13 property tax roll rules for residential homeowners but would allow for a new, different tax roll for commercial properties. State and local governments are awash in revenues from recent raises of income tax rates and the booming economy but face budget pressures from government employee pension benefit obligations and a Legislature that wants to spend additional money to fund new or increased government benefit programs. Do you support retaining the current Proposition 13 unified roll for residential and commercial properties or a new “split roll” to raise government revenues?

3.  Proposition 13 on the March 3, 2020 Ballot – There is a different Proposition 13 on the March 3, 2020 Ballot. This measure would authorize $15 billion for school and college facilities in California, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges. California voters have approved nearly $45 billion in bonds for schools, colleges and universities since the year 2000, and this measure would raise the total to $60 billion in two decades. In addition, this measure would nearly double the current limits on bonded indebtedness for local school districts from 1.25% to 2 % of assessed property valuation and similarly for community college districts to raise bonded indebtedness from 2% to 4% of assessed valuation.  Do you support raising an additional $15 billion in bond funding for schools and community colleges and nearly doubling their bond debt limits?

4.  Public funds for ballot measure campaigns — State law prohibits public officials from spending tax dollars to conduct election campaigns to raise taxes and bonds. However, penalties for violation of these laws are rarely enforced, and although public officials may be personally liable for approving such illegal expenditures, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has only recently fined public agencies for breaking these laws, and the Legislature has blocked efforts to give the FPPC and district attorneys greater authority to enforce these laws. Los Angeles County in 2016 spent over $1.5 million on campaign materials to successfully promote a $2 billion homeless housing bond measure.  In SLO County, the local transportation agency spent nearly 3/4 of a million dollars on an unsuccessful campaign to promote a 1/2 cent transportation sales tax measure.  Do you support tougher legislation and enforcement efforts to enforce current law prohibitions against our government spending taxpayer dollars on such election campaign materials?

5.  Efforts to convert from natural gas to electric energy – Recently, the City of SLO considered adopting a law to require all new residential and commercial buildings either to provide for alternate (electric) energy to replace natural gas for heating and cooking or an excise tax to fund promotion of conversion from natural gas heating to electricity alone. The State Legislature also enacted new legislation to promote such local energy conversion efforts. Restaurants and natural gas providers have opposed such conversion laws and recently the state restaurant association sued the City of Berkeley over the law enacted in that city.  Do you support or oppose such energy conversion laws, even if their financial and efficient heating effects have not been fully analyzed?

6.  Community Choice Electricity and Government Takeover of PG & E  – Recently, communities in various parts of the state have voted to participate in multi-agency efforts to act as middleman agencies to provide energy to their communities. These programs are permitted by the state Community Choice Act. The agencies do not produce or own energy production and distribution facilities themselves. Additionally, cities such as San Jose, Berkeley and San Francisco and Governor Newsom have proposed that the state and/or local governments should acquire and operate PG&E’s energy production and distribution systems. The costs and feasibility of such government takeover of energy production are unknown, but in 2003 California state government’s effort to “deregulate” energy prices led to widespread energy price spikes, power outages, and insolvency for the state’s major utilities (PG&E, So Cal Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric). Public power systems have operated more successfully in the Sacramento area (SMUD) and Los Angeles (DWP).  Do you support generally the maintenance of California’s existing