Yes, There’s a City Election Tomorrow – Please Vote!

During some spring election seasons, there’s a lot to talk about and a lot to vote on.  But this year, our spring election – which will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, June 4 – has only one item on the ballot for most voters in central Los Angele:  Measure EE, a parcel tax to help fund Los Angeles public schools.

Because it’s such a small election, many people many not even be aware that there is an election tomorrow…and many who are aware of it may simply give it a pass, especially if they don’t have a child who currently attends LAUSD public schools.  But the measure needs a 2/3 majority to pass, so voting is very important, whether or not you support the measure.

Here’s more information:

What is Measure EE?

The question as phrased on the ballot reads:

“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; shall Los Angeles Unified School District levy $0.16 per square foot of building improvements annually, exempting seniors/certain disability recipients, providing approximately $500,000,000 annually for 12 years, requiring annual audits, oversight, and funding local schools?”

So what does that mean?

According to Ballotopedia:

A yes vote is a vote in favor of authorizing the district to levy an annual parcel tax—a kind of property tax based on units of property rather than assessed value—for 12 years at the rate of $0.16 per square foot of building improvements to fund educational improvements, instruction, and programs.

A no vote is a vote against authorizing the district to levy a $0.16 per square foot parcel tax for 12 years.

District officials estimated that the parcel tax would raise $500 million per year.

More details from Ballotopedia:

  • 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. No proceeds from this Tax can be used for purchasing school lots, building or modernizing schools, funding legal settlements and liabilities, and operating schools outside the boundaries of the District.
  • 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. The annual audit shall be filed with the Board. Tax proceeds shall be deposited in a separate, special account.
  • Any funds generated by the Measure to be allocated to Local Charter Schools shall be based on their in-district average daily attendance.
  • Any property otherwise exempt from ad valorem property taxes in a tax year shall also be exempt from the Tax in the same year. Additionally, any owner of a parcel who occupies the parcel as a principal residence who: (1) is 65 years or over; (2) receives supplemental security income for a disability, regardless of age; or (3) receives social security disability insurance benefits, regardless of age, and whose annual income does not exceed 250 percent of the 2012 federal poverty guidelines, may apply for Tax exemption. The County Tax Assessor’s determination of exemption or relief of any parcel from taxation for any reason shall be final and binding.
  • The Tax shall be collected by the County Tax Collector at the same time, in the same manner, and subject to the same interest and penalties applicable to ad valorem property taxes.

Who Supports Measure EE?

The following people and organizations support the measure:

Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles
Kirsten Farrell, 2018 California Teacher of the Year
Andre Spicer, past president, Council of Black Administrators, and director of Los Angeles Unified Division of Instruction
Dianne F. Harrison, president, California State University, Northridge
United Teachers of Los Angeles
Service Employees International Union

Pete Buttigieg (D), 2020 presidential candidate
Sen. Kamala Harris (D), 2020 presidential candidate
Los Angeles County Democratic Party
Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

Official argument in favor of Measure EE, from the County Clerk’s Voter Guide:

“Measure EE is a critical part of the solution to the public education funding crisis that was highlighted by the recent teachers strike in the Los Angeles area. Teachers and school district leaders agree that Measure EE will lower class sizes and provide needed resources for local schools and pay salaries to retain and attract quality teachers and student support staff.

Even though it is the fifth-largest economy in the world, California ranks 44th in the United States in per-pupil funding for education. Measure EE is desperately needed to get our LOCAL schools the resources they need to educate our students, an investment which will help bring many more students up to grade level in math and reading.

The key to a strong economy is a well-educated workforce. By voting YES on Measure EE and investing in quality academic programs such as language arts, math, science, technology, the arts, vocational and career education, and preschool, we can provide students with safe and healthy schools and the quality education they’ll need for college and a career in a competitive economy.

Measure EE is subject to strict accountability requirements. It requires that every dollar will be used to support local schools and cannot be taken by the state or federal government. Measure EE will have public oversight and requires annual independent audits to ensure that all dollars are spent as promised.

Educators, teachers, parents, and community leaders are united in support of Measure EE. Now is the time to invest in public education! We cannot afford to wait and let our schools fall further behind.”

Also, in its editorial endorsing the measure, the LA Times said:

“L.A. Unified has little or no chance of offering an excellent education to its 600,000 students without more resources, no matter how efficiently it shepherds its budget. Indeed, four months after a bitter weeklong teachers’ strike, L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner, teachers union leader Alex Caputo-Pearl and Mayor Eric Garcetti are all campaigning together for support of the parcel tax, arguing that the district can’t fulfill its responsibilities if it is chronically underfunded.”

And the Times’ bottom line:  “…before the district can do all the right things with adequate funding, it first has to have adequate funding.”

Who Opposes Measure EE?

The following people and organizations oppose Measure EE:

Tracy Hernandez, founding CEO, Los Angeles County Business Federation
Hon. Bill Dewitt, former South Gate mayor
Maria Salinas, president and CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Jon Coupal, president, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
Stuart Waldman, president, Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA)
Jack Humphreville, Windsor Square resident and city budget representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council

Official argument against Measure EE from the LA County Voter’s Guide:

“We all want an effective public education system for our children and support greater funding to get there. Unfortunately, LAUSD’s proposed parcel tax isn’t the answer. It includes no guarantee to spend our tax dollars in the classroom to improve education.

Voters approved tax increases in 2012 and again in 2016 to fund schools. LAUSD continues to shortchange our children with poor student achievement scores in English and math, low graduation rates and declining enrollment.

DON’T BE FOOLED. Money from the tax won’t add resources to classrooms. It will be used to temporarily fix a budget deficit and to pay for LAUSD’s over- promised pension and health insurance costs.

A 2018 Reason Foundation report found that over the last 15 years, the district has lost more than 245,000 students. But, the cost of the district’s employee benefits have increased 44% since 2014. Its spending on outside consulting services rose 110% since 2014.

The Daily News wrote, “Parcel taxes tend to take a greater percentage of income from lower-income taxpayers.” This tax “will add hundreds of dollars annually to homeowners’ property tax bills and thousands of dollars to the annual expenses of supermarkets, retail stores, office buildings, warehouses and commercial facilities.”

This tax includes apartment buildings. High rents will increase more!

Families are getting crushed with unaffordable housing. A new tax of 16-cents per sq.ft. of building space ($537 per parcel average) makes matters worse. Needlessly, this June 4th Special Election is costing taxpayers $12.5 million.

LAUSD WASTES OUR MONEY.

District bureaucrats and defenders of the failed status quo want taxpayers to bail out a school district with a history of red ink, appalling education results, declining enrollment, runaway administrative hiring and exploding retirement and health care costs.

REFORMS MUST COME FIRST”

And Humphreville’s recent column in the CityWatchLA blog, claims that:

“…the proceeds from Measure EE will be used to fund the Structural Deficit, the generous salary increases for the teachers and other LAUSD employees, and the ever increasing contributions to its underfunded pension and post-retirement medical plans.

No wonder the UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles), the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and other unions have invested over $1 million to support Measure EE.

This vote is an opportunity for us to tell the Board of Education, the UTLA, and the political establishment that LAUSD needs to clean up its act.  It must develop realistic plans to improve student outcomes and safety, to right size its bloated bureaucracy, to sell or lease its surplus properties, to allow for increased oversight and transparency into its operations and finances, to recognize quality teachers by reforming its seniority and tenure system, and to stop its war on charter and magnet schools…).”

So take a look at your ballot guide…make your decision…check your polling place (it may not be the same place you voted last time!)…and please vote tomorrow!  (Also, if getting to your polling place is an issue, we’ve heard that ride service Lyft is offering 50% off rides (up to $5) to polling places tomorrow.  Use discount code VOTELAX19 on the Lyft app when ordering your ride.)

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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