Patterico's Pontifications

6/5/2019

LAUSD Parcel Tax Defeated

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:19 am



[guest post by JVW]

I’ve been yammering on about Measure EE, a parcel tax measure that the Los Angeles Unified School District foisted upon district residents in order to pay off the lavish and irresponsible promises they made to the teachers’ union in settling last winter’s strike. It went down to ignoble defeat last night, failing not only to achieve the necessary two-thirds margin for passing, but embarrassingly failing to muster so much as a majority. The final totals won’t be official for a few days, but right now it looks like a full 54.6% of voters rejected the tax. Slightly over 300,000 voters cast ballots, a low number to be sure, but not that much lower than the number who came out to reelect Mayor Eric Garcetti two years ago.

Naturally, the education establishment in the city is pointing the blame at others, instead of acknowledging their dishonesty and duplicity in trying to rush this tax past the voters. Mayor Garcetti, who received a great deal of credit for brokering the strike settlement and thus played a significant role in promoting a “yes” vote on the measure, lazily blamed some guy in Washington, DC for the failure:

In response to early returns, Mayor Eric Garcetti said it’s often “rare” for any school district facing opposition on a parcel tax effort to achieve a two-thirds vote.

“The campaign against got two million bucks from Trump’s biggest supporter in the state,” he said at a Measure EE returns party in reference to a donation to an opposition campaign by Geoffrey Palmer, a LA-based real estate developer.

The mayor might want to ruminate for a moment on the fact, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, that unions and other supporters of Measure EE actually outspent their opponents, so this loss can’t be sloughed off as having been purchased by the other side. What’s more, because this was a special election and because this measure was in many parts of the city the only item on the ballot, LAUSD is on the hook for paying for a portion of the $12.5 million it cost to run this election (that’s $40 per vote cast, according to my abacus) along with the $1 million they spent in sending out “informational” mailings that were thinly disguised advocacy pieces. This is a colossal loss for the district, the union, and for a mayor who has higher ambitions.

So where does the district go now? Theoretically they can still fulfill their promises in the strike settlement, but that entails drawing down the district’s reserves which are supposed to be used in emergencies, and the Los Angeles County Office of Education has already threatened a takeover of the district if they can’t get their financial house in order. The district will come back with another parcel tax measure when they feel the turnout among progressives will be more robust, at the November 2020 election for certain if not at the March 2020 primary election. There is a scheduled municipal election in Los Angeles this coming November, but given yesterday’s margin of defeat the district might not be willing to chance another attempt just five months from now. You can expect the LAUSD to go hat in hand to the state for more funding, and you can also expect that the left will re-double its efforts to lower the threshold for approving parcel taxes from two-thirds down to a simple majority. Come the November 2020 election, Californians will also be asked to undo Proposition 13 by changing the way in which commercial buildings are taxed, while naturally vowing to protect residential property taxes. This ain’t over by a longshot, but last night was a good night for the principle that you can’t just demand more taxpayer money to bail yourself out of irresponsible commitments.

– JVW

28 Responses to “LAUSD Parcel Tax Defeated”

  1. I feel sorry for the schoolkids in the LAUSD. They are clearly just pawns in a game run by the educational establishment, the county, the state, the federal government, and ambitious politicians who like to use them for photo ops but whose true priorities are in placating the powerful teachers’ unions, not in educating the kids.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  2. Ultimately, wasn’t this just a ruse to run the money through the general fund and pay the district’s employee benefits?

    Dana (779465)

  3. Ultimately, wasn’t this just a ruse to run the money through the general fund and pay the district’s employee benefits?

    I think that was always the fallback, but the district certainly would have loved having an extra $500 million per year in taxpayer funds to play around with. Imagine the sort of nonsense they could have funded with that!

    Immediately after the strike was settled the LAUSD apparently commissioned a poll which showed close to 70% of voters supporting the parcel tax, so I think they had every reason to sincerely believe that they could squeak this measure on through. They lost because they failed to inspire a large turn-out, and because they screwed up royally with a completely inept ballot roll-out and some harebrained ideas for advocacy.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  4. I guess there are more taxpayers willing to vote in a special election than there are school employees with their marching orders. Pity the teacher who doesn’t have their ballot stub to show.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  5. Is measure MM a first high profile victim of SALT restrictions re federal taxes? Note in the pre-election posting I mentioned a much lower approval rate than in years past for school referundums in Chicago area suburbs this past April.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  6. This:

    The [Los Angeles area Chamber of Commerce] contended there was no guarantee the money raised by the measure would go toward reducing classroom size or funding nurses and librarians in schools — all while the district has no plan for addressing its “unfunded pension obligations, increasing healthcare costs or cost structure of a large organization with declining student enrollment.”

    Dana (8066e2)

  7. 54.6% of 300,000 equals 163,800. That’s way better than what Abraham needed (and couldn’t find) to save Sodom and Gomorrah.

    nk (dbc370)

  8. 54.6% of 300,000 equals 163,800. That’s way better than what Abraham needed (and couldn’t find) to save Sodom and Gomorrah.

    It would be great if we could bargain with God to save Southern California, but I’m afraid that we can only bargain with the public employee unions and their marionette politicians.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  9. Congratulations Cantafordya taxpayers.

    mg (8cbc69)

  10. 1. I feel sorry for any school kids who have to participate in the farce that is government-sponsored schooling regardless of where they are or how much gets spent on them.

    Gryph (08c844)

  11. Everything JVW said is right — one of those posts that makes me wish I had the ability to have written.

    It also probably didn’t help the measure that the election more or less coincided with news about the worsening homeless problem and the garbage-strewn and diseased conditions in (at least) downtown LA. I know the LAUSD is a different entity, but perhaps voters felt that local government as a whole isn’t exactly doing the greatest job right now and needs to fix some other problems before being given even more money. Right next door in Burbank, which is conspicuously better run than LA, a similar parcel tax failed to pass a couple of months ago.

    Of course, since the people voted “wrong” this time, all that means is that it’ll be put back up for a vote one way or another until they finally get it right. Maybe it’ll be set for an election where turnout will be higher — at my polling place yesterday, I kind of felt sorry for the five volunteers running it, as they could have used some company. There was one voter leaving as I arrived, and another one come in when I was leaving, but otherwise it was just me and the volunteers there for a few minutes. Anyway, and just for now, it’s nice to see an LA Times endorsed measure not pass.

    RL formerly in Glendale (40f5aa)

  12. Taxation in this country is very inefficient and we have far to many government enities. Centralizing government will save money to pay teachers. Ballot measure to either centralize government or raise taxes should be put on ballot for voters to decide they can’t have both.

    lany (bd5c22)

  13. Everything JVW said is right — one of those posts that makes me wish I had the ability to have written.

    Very kind of you to write, and thanks for commenting. I hadn’t heard about the Burbank parcel tax, but I am pleased to know that voters are starting to draw the line on all of these blank-check demands. You also raise the interesting question about what comes next: yes, the LAUSD can just keep coming back with more tax dollar requests but perhaps — just perhaps — they will take seriously the need for fiscal reform first. Or maybe the County and/or State will simply take over the district. Who knows?

    JVW (54fd0b)

  14. It would be great if we could bargain with God to save Southern California

    And let Northern California twist slowly in the wind? I’m OK with that.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  15. Is measure MM a first high profile victim of SALT restrictions re federal taxes?

    I think they are more concerned with writing the check in the first place. Many retired people (who all vote) would be on the hook for the parcel tax, but don’t pay enough income tax for this to matter.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  16. Centralizing government

    All power to the center! All this noisome diversity and these differences of opinion need to be swept to the side so we can get on with our business of making everything the same! One leader, one nation, one voice!

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  17. Apologize for the off topic, but the left just got YouTube to demonitize Steven Crowder.

    Yet another strike all going in the same direction.

    NJRob (5a4bbc)

  18. The danger from the left to free speech is much more dangerous than the danger from the right.

    Sammy Finkelman (9974e8)

  19. The danger from the left to free speech is much more dangerous than the danger from the right.

    The danger is from the State, no matter what fig leaf it wears.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  20. 20. Since many otherwise right-thinking (pun intended) individuals seem to have trouble with this, I’ll put it another way: many who claim to be on the right, or conservative, or Republican, or all of the above, have no interest in reducing the power of the state when that power benefits them. e.g. Donald J. Trump

    Gryph (08c844)

  21. The Crowder thing is both much less and much more, it seems.
    Youtube wants him to stop selling one t shirt via his channel. The t-shirt is adorned with the motto, “Socialism is for F–s” (not sure if the actual word will trigger the filter here). But Youtube rejected the complaints against the videos themselves, and pretty much said that Crowder’s videos did not violate its standards.

    But then Youtube seems to have not stopped with Crowder, and started demonetizing a whole lot of channels.

    Details here
    https://hotair.com/archives/2019/06/05/youtube-sides-steven-crowder-says-will-demonitize/

    Kishnevi (d911b4)

  22. 17 You want higher taxes? if you don’t consolidate.

    lany (aa9ddb)

  23. 23. You’re talking about commie-fornia, right? I don’t think consolidation will keep taxes from rising there. Sure as s**t won’t lower them.

    Gryph (08c844)

  24. 22. I think Crowder was right. It’s another adpocalypse. I don’t know who Youtube is trying to pander to this time, but it’s hard for me to see any good coming of it for anyone.

    Gryph (08c844)

  25. Whatever possessed YouTube to share its ad revenue with the uploaders in the first place? I can see it for movies, tv shows, and music videos — YouTube should pay them a royalty or license fee for using their content. But some guy who just wants to have himself and his opinions known? Fugedaboudit.

    nk (dbc370)

  26. 26. I think some quality content has come from Youtube’s business model. Unfortunately, as with the rest of the internet, you have to wade through a crap-ton of garbage in order to find it.

    As a publicly traded company, Alphabet/Google will do what they think will placate their shareholders. How that will work out, in the end, remains to be seen.

    Gryph (08c844)

  27. Ultimately, wasn’t this just a ruse to run the money through the general fund and pay the district’s employee benefits?
    Dana

    Yes. In fact the phrase “going to the classroom” does include pensions and benefits, which they never tell the voters. Most of the Prop 30 money that was voted in to “go the classroom” did pay for pensions.

    https://calwatchdog.com/2013/04/29/pensions/

    Patricia (3363ec)


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