A Test for LAUSD: Measure EE Goes Before Voters Tuesday
Tuesday is an important day for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Four months after its agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) ended a historic six-day strike, the district is asking voters to approve a new parcel tax. The goal: to raise funds for a series of promises it made to union members, including smaller class sizes and greater support staff in addition to a 6% pay raise for teachers.
If Measure EE passes, homeowners would be charged sixteen cents per square foot of property improvements. For the median homeowner in the area, that’s an additional $288 per year for the next 12 years.
There are some exemptions. Property owners over 65, many of those on disability, and those receiving supplemental security income do not have to pay the tax.
The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce is among the organizations opposing the measure.
“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,” Chamber of Commerce President Maria Salinas said in a statement. “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.”
Opponents have also expressed concerns that the tax would exacerbate already sky-high housing prices. The measure could hit renters too. Those not protected by rent control could see the cost of the tax passed onto them by landlords.
Both L.A. Unified Supt. Austin Beutner and UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl – finally on the same side this time – say it’s a small price to pay for the education of our kids.
“One of the biggest outcomes of the strike was the awareness that we’re 44th out of 50” in school funding, Caputo-Pearl told the Los Angeles Times.
Measure EE requires a two-thirds vote to pass. It would raise an estimated $500 million per year.
Read more about Measure EE at LAist.