On June 4, Los Angeles voters will decide the fate of Los Angeles Unified School District’s Measure EE, a $500 million per year property tax. Measure EE would tax structures on properties annually at a rate of 16 cents a square foot for 12 years on top of the 12 cents currently paid by property owners.
Proponents of this measure claim it will allow the district to reduce class size and support teachers; but it isn’t as simple as whether we support kids, teachers and public education – I think for most of us, the answer is a resounding yes. While the district is weighed down with unfunded pension liabilities and increasing health care costs, we are concerned Measure EE offers insufficient guarantees that the funding sought will actually make it to the classroom.
The Chamber has been a staunch advocate for public education and LAUSD specifically, but Measure EE falls short on delivering what is needed in the way of accountability, transparency and oversight, which is why we oppose this property tax.
While we disagree with specifics of this measure, we are equally concerned with the rushed manner in which Measure EE made it to the ballot. Without the benefit of public input, L.A. voters are now being forced to decide on a poorly crafted ballot measure in a costly special election. Within 48 hours, this measure was hurridly introduced and approved by the LAUSD Board. We must be concerned about public trust and the respect for communities demanding engagement on issues that impact them.
In the last 30 days, the School Board has tried to address these concerns by passing two resolutions – the first to address the Measure’s lack of oversight and the second to address what constitutes a taxable structure (see Howard Bloom’s L.A. Times articles from May 3
and May 7
). The later came after LAUSD staff deleted an exemption for commercial and residential parking structures – a material change that came after Board approval and has significant financial implications. Voters must understand these resolutions are non-binding and don’t change the language of the actual Measure, meaning there is significant risk that any school board within the 12-year life of this tax could dilute or ignore these resolutions.
Public education is a top priority for us, and our daily work with LAUSD continues. We do not disagree that something strategic needs to be done to ensure our kids and our public education system succeed. It is imperative the L.A. region commit to providing and funding a quality education for all of our students – education that produces a globally competitive workforce. But, Measure EE is not the answer. We must vote NO.
Our work in supporting public eduction doesn’t stop with this election. We plan to be at the table, regardless of the outcome, with a broad-based coalition, working together with LAUSD to have a dialogue on about how, together, we can ensure that students and teachers in L.A. are supported with an adequately funded public education system.
And that's The Business Perspective.
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