AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, left, president Monica Garcia, center, and executive officer Jefferson Crain at a recent school board meeting. With Beutner's recommendation, the board unanimously voted on Feb. 28 to place a parcel tax on the June 4 ballot.

Three Los Angeles area business associations have signed the official ballot argument opposing L.A. Unified’s sizable 12-year parcel tax on the June 4 ballot — compounding the district’s challenge of getting a two-thirds majority required to pass it. The opponents include the influential Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Parcel tax backers had hoped that business community leaders would take no position, if they couldn’t support a parcel tax. Instead, opponents are promising a vigorous $4 million campaign to defeat Measure EE, said Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, based in the San Fernando Valley.

Waldman, L.A. chamber President and CEO Maria Salinas and Tracy Hernandez, founding CEO of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, also signed the ballot statement, along with Jon Coupal, president of the anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and former South Gate Mayor Bill DeWitt.

The chamber initially said it would support a standard parcel tax, charging every property owner in the district the same dollar amount. But the organization has followed through with its threat to oppose what the school board adopted: a parcel tax based on the square footage of buildings on a property – an approach that would substantially shift the tax burden from homeowners to commercial properties, large apartment buildings and industrial sites with large buildings.

Using temperate language in her most recent blog post to explain the chamber’s position, Salinas noted the Chamber’s past support for the district’s construction bonds and other initiatives, adding, “We understand the financial picture at LAUSD and the importance of committing resources to provide a quality education for all our students; however, Measure EE is not the answer.”

But the ballot statement that she signed, which will be mailed to all voters in the district in late April, is harshly critical of the district.

It reads in part: “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.”

Waldman said he wrote the initial draft of what was a document by consensus.

Measure EE is projected to raise $400 million to $500 million annually, with charter schools receiving about 20 percent, based on their share of student enrollment. The school board, which unanimously voted for the parcel tax, says it will need the money to hire teachers in order to lower class sizes, add counselors and school nurses and pay for raises the board agreed to in the contract signed with teachers in January following a six-day strike. Without the additional revenue, the measure says, there will be “harmful cuts” to programs, probable layoffs and larger class sizes in 2021-22.

The school board quickly moved forward with a proposed parcel tax both to ensure that revenue will start flowing in 2019-20 and to capitalize on strong public support in polling for striking teachers’ demands.

In her statement, Salinas cited the board’s choice of an off-year election, which usually draws a small turnout — “We believe more voters is better for democracy” — as well as haste in making its decision as reasons for the chamber’s opposition. “The school board approved the 16 cents per square foot parcel tax without giving consideration to our suggestions or getting community input,” Salinas wrote.

But Yes on Measure EE’s chief strategist and spokesman Yusef Robb dismissed those reasons as a rationale to oppose a more progressive parcel tax. “At a time of record profits and tax breaks for businesses, these organizations opposed to Measure EE explicitly do not want to pay their fair share,” he said. “They want the owner of a million-square-foot skyscraper to pay the same as the owner of a thousand-square-foot home.”

According to an analysis by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, most homeowners in Los Angeles and the two-dozen communities in the district will pay between $100 and $450 per year. The median tax would be $235 for an owner of a 1,450-square-foot home.

The Yes on Measure EE campaign also is promising a vigorous campaign, with United Teachers Los Angeles and other unions behind it, as well as Garcetti, who stepped in to help negotiate the teachers’ contract and whose signature is first on the official ballot statement favoring the tax.

“Under most circumstances, a $4 million opposition campaign would be hard to overcome,” said Dan Schnur, a professor in political communications at USC and UC Berkeley. But the school board and Garcetti, he said, “may be thinking they can extend the post-strike mood of the public to Election Day.”

Asked how to do that, Schnur’s answer was simple: “You buy a lot of ads.”

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  1. Larry Lamborghini 3 months ago3 months ago

    LAUSD wastes our money. TRUE.

  2. Agustin Alvarez 4 months ago4 months ago

    It’s not fair for homeowners to pay for everything. I haven’t even had any kids that go to school for the last 20 years. Why doesn’t every taxpayer, every pupil, every family that has kids that go to school pay for that tax?

  3. dina pie 4 months ago4 months ago

    I think a new parcel tax opens the door for an increase in overhead costs that the average household simply cannot afford. I think an educational tax paid by Amazon (now over $70 billion a year in sales, expected to top $100 bllion in the not too distant future) and other companies with many billions of dollars in yearly sales, would solve the problem not just in L.A, but statewide. A 1.5% educational sales tax … Read More

    I think a new parcel tax opens the door for an increase in overhead costs that the average household simply cannot afford. I think an educational tax paid by Amazon (now over $70 billion a year in sales, expected to top $100 bllion in the not too distant future) and other companies with many billions of dollars in yearly sales, would solve the problem not just in L.A, but statewide.

    A 1.5% educational sales tax on Internet services/sales would generate billions towards education. Another asset can be raised by fees paid for new development projects in any given county. Developers should have to pay a fee that goes directly to the local schools impacted by new growth of the proposed multi-unit/large commercial development. Let’s face it, most homeowners are strapped. I do not have kids, and yet, I would have to pay hundreds more than I already pay in property taxes. There just is no more left to give. But, if I had enough money to buy something on amazon.com, I could spare that extra 1.5% on purchase at a time!

  4. Eric 4 months ago4 months ago

    Even if every single penny went directly to teachers, in order to reduce class size, I would never vote for any new taxes. Additionally, I will never vote for anything having to do with schools, until a performance objective is set and attained. I will never vote for anything having to do with schools until the "teachers" begin to teach and stop indoctrinating children (which to me is a form of child abuse) … Read More

    Even if every single penny went directly to teachers, in order to reduce class size, I would never vote for any new taxes. Additionally, I will never vote for anything having to do with schools, until a performance objective is set and attained. I will never vote for anything having to do with schools until the “teachers” begin to teach and stop indoctrinating children (which to me is a form of child abuse) in their own political philosophies.

  5. nicolina clark 4 months ago4 months ago

    LA School District has always been dysfunctional. They wasted millions to rebuild a high school a few years back that was on oil fields and never occupied it somewhere near Rampart and Temple. Taxing the properties to support all these programs is criminal. The Dems want open borders they should pay for the schools to accommodate the non-taxpayers. California is proposing free medical to all undocumented people. Our homeless problem has infiltrated every block … Read More

    LA School District has always been dysfunctional. They wasted millions to rebuild a high school a few years back that was on oil fields and never occupied it somewhere near Rampart and Temple. Taxing the properties to support all these programs is criminal. The Dems want open borders they should pay for the schools to accommodate the non-taxpayers. California is proposing free medical to all undocumented people. Our homeless problem has infiltrated every block of the city. We need to vote these people out of office, it has been pervaded with misery.

  6. Tim 4 months ago4 months ago

    It costs a lot to educate and feed and house and avocate for foreign nationals living in your country illegally.

    Enjoy, liberals.

  7. Paul Roberts 4 months ago4 months ago

    Every few years this school district hits the public up for more money. And what do we have to show for it, nothing? Well I have had enough. It is already too expensive to live in this state of California and now they want to make it even worse. Vote NO on measure EE. It would also help to stop supporting open border policies. This is a direct result of over-crowded classrooms and overly exhausted social service … Read More

    Every few years this school district hits the public up for more money. And what do we have to show for it, nothing? Well I have had enough.

    It is already too expensive to live in this state of California and now they want to make it even worse. Vote NO on measure EE.

    It would also help to stop supporting open border policies. This is a direct result of over-crowded classrooms and overly exhausted social service programs. This has to stop. No more money.

    Vote NO on measure EE.

  8. Donald Ferguson 4 months ago4 months ago

    Proposal: An alternative to the “parcel tax”, measure EE: Despite the Supreme Court’s OK, want to place a bet on your favorite team? Sorry, you can’t do that in California. The state’s Indian tribes assert that they have an exclusive right on betting in the state. (“California voters have, on numerous occasions, confirmed the exclusive right of California tribal governments to operate casino-style games,” he said. “Legalization of sports betting should not become a backdoor way to … Read More

    Proposal: An alternative to the “parcel tax”, measure EE:
    Despite the Supreme Court’s OK, want to place a bet on your favorite team? Sorry, you can’t do that in California. The state’s Indian tribes assert that they have an exclusive right on betting in the state.
    (“California voters have, on numerous occasions, confirmed the exclusive right of California tribal governments to operate casino-style games,” he said. “Legalization of sports betting should not become a backdoor way to infringe upon exclusivity.”)
    I say let the voters decide and make sure that California’s schools are the beneficiaries.
    https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/10/other-states-approve-sports-betting-but-california-lacks-momentum/1121782001/

  9. Leonard Isenberg 4 months ago4 months ago

    Proposition EE needs two-thirds of the voters to vote yes in order to pass it. Maybe LAUSD - and the corporate exclusively-for-financial-profit interests that control it - will finally get the message that the public is onto their endemic corruption, if a super majority of two-thirds of the voters votes against this latest proposed ripoff. Regrettably, such an action stands the best chance of finally getting LAUSD to educate the 90% Black and Latino populations … Read More

    Proposition EE needs two-thirds of the voters to vote yes in order to pass it. Maybe LAUSD – and the corporate exclusively-for-financial-profit interests that control it – will finally get the message that the public is onto their endemic corruption, if a super majority of two-thirds of the voters votes against this latest proposed ripoff. Regrettably, such an action stands the best chance of finally getting LAUSD to educate the 90% Black and Latino populations that are now mostly passed through it without an education.

  10. Berner A. Barro 4 months ago4 months ago

    I'm writing this, not to receive any advice but for someone to explain how this would affect regular taxpayers. Would this allow apartment building owners a chance to raise taxpayers rents with expectations that that would bail them out of paying this parcel tax? I wonder if other first-time voters who rent are having an issue with this measure? If so, I would love to hear your comments. My email is jaykat79@gmail.com Read More

    I’m writing this, not to receive any advice but for someone to explain how this would affect regular taxpayers. Would this allow apartment building owners a chance to raise taxpayers rents with expectations that that would bail them out of paying this parcel tax? I wonder if other first-time voters who rent are having an issue with this measure? If so, I would love to hear your comments. My email is jaykat79@gmail.com

  11. Acquired Expertise 4 months ago4 months ago

    I have the greatest respect for teachers in general and for the teachers of LAUSD in particular, having been educated by them myself. NevertheIess, I absolutely will not support a tax increase of this size on property owners within the district. Happily, I can afford it, but there are countless renters in our city who live from paycheck to paycheck and already find it a struggle to make their rent every month who cannot, and … Read More

    I have the greatest respect for teachers in general and for the teachers of LAUSD in particular, having been educated by them myself. NevertheIess, I absolutely will not support a tax increase of this size on property owners within the district. Happily, I can afford it, but there are countless renters in our city who live from paycheck to paycheck and already find it a struggle to make their rent every month who cannot, and in good conscience, in spite of the LAUSD’s self-evident need for substantially more funding, I will not support this solution to the problem.

  12. Fernando Ortega 5 months ago5 months ago

    This idea is ridiculous. More taxes will be regressive and result in increasing rents and goods and services. We love the teachers but the administration of the LAUSD is too top heavy. Become more efficient – don’t increase the burden on Latina families.

  13. Guillermo HERNANDEZ 5 months ago5 months ago

    You add this tax on homeowners and property owners, do you think that if a homeowner is renting it out, do you think for one second that the rent is not going to go up to maybe double the tax?

  14. John p. 5 months ago5 months ago

    We all have compassion but if we want to save the world when we can’t even afford to take care of our children it doesn’t make sense. We’re spending a lot of money on sanctuary city issues and now add another property tax.

  15. Lika 5 months ago5 months ago

    It’s too much. I already pay $9k in property tax per year to live in an unremarkable middle class neighborhood. Now you want to tack on a few hundred more? There is a limit to what people can afford.

  16. Bill 6 months ago6 months ago

    The educators work just half a year, and the students only get 180 days of instruction each year.
    For more taxes, do they get more?

    Replies

    • Tee 5 months ago5 months ago

      This statement is so false. We don’t work half the year. People have no idea how much work we do at home, on weekends, and even during winter, spring, and summer breaks. Also we are required to stay 7+ hours on our campuses, yet we are paid for 6. We are mandated to attend trainings and professional developments, often for nearly a third of our hourly pay. Many of us attend conferences on our … Read More

      This statement is so false. We don’t work half the year. People have no idea how much work we do at home, on weekends, and even during winter, spring, and summer breaks. Also we are required to stay 7+ hours on our campuses, yet we are paid for 6. We are mandated to attend trainings and professional developments, often for nearly a third of our hourly pay. Many of us attend conferences on our breaks for no pay, and we pay for the conference fees out of our own pockets. Also, during the year we use our own money for resources, supplies, and incentives for our students. So please, think about this before saying that educators work half the year.

      • Frank Anthony 4 months ago4 months ago

        LAUSD is a failed organization and fundamentally political and corrupt. It’s difficult to have empathy for members of an organization that fail to rise up and correct such an obvious broken system. Test scores and graduation rates tell a story of incompetence and failure, a problem that deserves less financial support, not more.

  17. Dr. Bill Conrad 6 months ago6 months ago

    LAUSD is totally bankrupt and of course business people see it! LAUSD should be closed! Just look at 4 years of data! (http://sipbigpicture.com) They subscribe to Einstein’s definition of insanity: Continue to do the same things over and over expecting different results. Business people know it’s time to totally reorganize the LAUSD before they commit to Mo Money!