"https://ballotpedia.org/Los_Angeles_Unified_School_District,_California,_Measure_EE,_Parcel_Tax_(June_2019)">Proceeds from the Tax shall be used for: lowering class sizes; providing school nursing, library, and counseling services and other health and human services for student support; providing instructional programs, school resources, and materials; retaining and attracting teachers and school employees; and providing necessary administrative services." - Measure EE
When the business interests opposing Measure EE state that the parcel tax will "compound the affordable housing problem", I can not help but wonder how many of these same people also worked against California Proposition 10 in last year's election. Had this proposal passed it would have allowed "local governments to adopt rent control on any type of rental housing." This would have given local governments a powerful tool in combating the affordable housing problem and gentrification. Unfortunately, the nearly $100 million spent against Propososition 10 helped to ensure its defeat. As a result, most local governments in California are still prohibited from enacting rent control.
Like the opponents of Proposition 10, those who are trying to get you to vote against Measure EE, have resorted to altering reality. For example, they claim that the funding for our students will come from "regressive property tax." In fact, the parcel tax is based on the total square footage of improvements on a property. Therefore, the owners of a modest, single story, two bedroom house will pay much less than a property owner living in a luxurious McMansion. The owners of record-breaking skyscrapers being built downtown will pay even more. Low-income seniors and those with disabilities can apply for exemptions so that they will pay nothing at all. By definition, this tax is borne the most by those who can afford to purchase larger properties and is, therefore, a progressive tax. While the measure could have been made even fairer by exempting the first thousand square feet of improved property, it is still far from being regressive.
Those opposing Measure EE also would like to pretend that the "money won't go to the classroom or to the kids. It has no oversight and no accountability." They do not have facts to back up their assertion but rely on the distrust of government that Trump has bread in our citizenry. In fact, the wording of the resolution says that the proceeds will be used "to retain/attract quality teachers; reduce class sizes; provide counseling/nursing/library services, arts, music, science, math, preschool, vocational/career education, safe/well-maintained schools, adequate instructional materials/supplies; support disadvantaged/homeless students". It also specifies that "the District shall arrange for an independent financial audit annually detailing the amount of funds collected and expended during the fiscal year, and the status of any project or description of any programs authorized to be funded by the Measure." Additionally, the members of the LAUSD School Board are each elected by their constituents. If the citizenry is not holding them accountable for District spending on each election, then voters are not doing their jobs.
The measure should have been written differently so that it had additional protections for taxpayers. For one, it could have specifically included an oversight committee like the one that looks over bond funding. Even better, it could have given this committee more independence from special interests and additional authority to stop projects like the iPad disaster. Perhaps the people funding the No on EE campaign should have spent their money pushing for reforms instead of funding a campaign meant to deprive our children of badly needed funding.
Hundreds of thousands of parents kept their children out of school during the teacher's strike. Many joined the teachers on the picket line in the pouring rain. We fought so that our children would get the education they deserve and together we won the battle. Measure EE will help pay the costs for that win.
The business interests who oppose the parcel tax are doing so to protect their bottom line. Will you show up to the polls on Tuesday to tell them that public education should have a higher priority?
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.