RCRC, in coalition with partners from the fair industry, local government, agricultural and community groups, supports Senate Bill 624, authored by Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson). This measure will enhance an existing fund source for California's network of fairs and offer much needed financial support for fair projects involving public health and safety, infrastructure, deferred maintenance, and reinvestment into the state’s 76 fairs. 

Specifically, SB 624 would: 

  • Increase the fairs’ share of tax revenues generated from on-fairground sales from 0.75% to 3.5%; 

  • Provide funding to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for costs related to oversight of District Agricultural Associations; 

  • Provide resources for technical assistance, training, education and professional development for fair managers and fair boards; and 

  • “Daylight“ the fund distribution process by CDFA, offering the Legislature proper oversight and approval. 

For more than 75 years, California’s fairs had a stable funding source from horse racing license fees and supplementary General Fund resources. When eliminated in the 2011-12 state budget, all fairs were required to become self-sufficient. The lapse in funding resulted in deferred maintenance, even as fairs became more necessary due to the increase in state and local emergencies. In response, in 2017, RCRC and the Western Fairs Association co-sponsored AB 1499 (Gray, D-Merced), to provide a modest supplemental revenue stream for fairs. The measure was approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, allowing fairs to retain three-quarters of 1% (0.75%) of sales and use tax revenues generated on fairgrounds. Some fairs have benefited from these limited revenues; however, the amount is insufficient as a statewide fiscal solution. 

The changes proposed in Senate Bill 624, provide a pathway for California’s network of fairs to have long-term sustainable funding, reliable for the operation and maintenance of the fairgrounds where the fair network serves California communities during times of fun, and increasingly in times of disaster. 

RCRC’s letter of support is available here. For additional information, contact RCRC Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, Mary-Ann Warmerdam.