UTLA strongly endorses parcel tax measure to fund schools

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A sign from the strike

Tax measure moves forward to June ballot

UTLA’s Board of Directors, the House of Representatives and chapter chairs agreed overwhelmingly to endorse a parcel tax measure that will go to LA city voters on June 4.  

Clip art of a school.

“Our schools have been underfunded for decades, and it will take more than one measure to reach UTLA’s goal¬ of $20,000 in per-pupil funding by the year 2020. Our strike successfully pressured LAUSD to tap into its reserve to fund student needs, but our schools must have ongoing funding," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl. "To have a sustainable school system, LAUSD must increase its revenue to fund the schools our students deserve.”

In the wake of the UTLA strike, which galvanized massive parent and community support for public education, polling showed unprecedented approval for a tax measure to reinvest in our schools. The polling showed that 85% of those surveyed endorsed our strike calling for more resources for our schools, and 77% said that they would vote yes on a parcel tax of 16 cents per square foot to provide the funding for those services. This level of support — typically only seen after months of focused campaigning — is a direct result of the LA strike, organizing and sacrifices on the picket line.

If approved on June 4, the measure would generate $450 million to $500 million for LAUSD schools. The funding would be used to recruit and retain teachers; reduce class sizes; provide counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and other school-based staff; support arts and music programs; provide instructional materials; and support disadvantaged students.

A parcel tax requires the approval of two-thirds of those casting ballots, and the measure will go before all residents who live within LAUSD boundaries.

The parcel tax would stay in place for 12 years.

 

Seven facts about the LAUSD parcel tax

  1. Our strike made this parcel tax happen
    In the wake of our strike, which galvanized massive parent and community support for public education, polling showed a significant spike in support for a tax measure to reinvest in our schools. The polling done by the district showed that 85% of those surveyed endorsed our strike calling for more resources for our schools, and 77% said that they would vote yes on a parcel tax to fund those services. This level of support is a direct result of your organizing and your sacrifices on the picket line. 
     
  2. The measure would raise $450 million to $500 million for LAUSD schools
    If the measure passes on June 4, funding would be used to recruit and retain teachers; reduce class sizes; provide counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and other school-based staff; support arts and music programs; provide instructional materials; and support disadvantaged students. A parcel tax requires the approval of two-thirds of those casting ballots, and the measure will go before all residents who live within LAUSD boundaries. The parcel tax would stay in place for 12 years.
     
  3. Our schools need this money for long-term sustainability
    Our strike successfully pressured LAUSD to tap into its huge reserve to fund student needs, but faced with low state funding, the charter drain, and increased retirement contributions for employees, the district needs more ongoing revenue, and this parcel tax provides some of that.
     
  4. Businesses would pay over 70% of the tax, and homeowners only 18%
    The tax would be a new annual assessment of 16 cents per square foot on property owners’ habitable indoor space (for example, floors on a multi-story building, a main residence plus an accessory dwelling unit, or the total square footage of a high-rise building). Over half of homeowners would pay less than $240 per year. By comparison, a skyscraper in downtown LA with 1,432,540 square feet of floor area would pay $229,206 annually. Commercial, industrial, and corporate landlords would pay more than 70% of this tax. Corporate landlords include private equity firms like Backstone, which rents a large number of single-family homes in the Los Angeles area. Homeowners would pay only 18%. There would be no direct tax on renters, which comprise 68% of LA city residents, and 80% of Los Angeles renters are under rent control, so the parcel tax cannot be passed onto them. Senior citizens and disabled persons would be exempt from the tax. 
     
  5. It’s just one piece of the funding puzzle
    It will take more than one measure to reach our goal¬ of $20,000 in per-pupil funding by the year 2020. An aggressive cam-paign behind the parcel tax will use our power from the strike to relaunch our 20 by 20 campaign, which centers on getting businesses and the wealthy to pay their fair share. Strands of this campaign could include passing the parcel tax, pressuring LA County to spend its mental health dollars in our public schools, passing the Schools and Communities First measure in November 2020, pressuring Governor Gavin Newsom to spend money on community schools and special education, while capping charter school growth, and tax-ing the rich to fully fund special education (IDEA) and Title I at the federal level. The proposed parcel tax represents about 10% of the amount needed to get to our 20 by 20 goal.
     
  6. This is not a regressive flat tax
    This parcel tax proposal is much more equitable than the flat tax the School Board considered in 2018. A flat tax is by nature very regressive, because lower-income property owners pay a much larger share of their incomes than higher-income property owners. Under a flat tax, homeowners would pay an estimated 45% of the total tax revenue compared to the 18% of the total revenue that would be paid by homeowners under this prosed tax.
     
  7. Fully funded schools are the strongest blow against privatization
    An underfunded public school system creates the conditions of scarcity that privatizers use to justify shutting down schools and handing them over the private operators. A healthy, thriving, well-funded public school system is how we defend against school takeovers and any Re:Imagine restructuring plans.