‘The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.’
Every day, I’m on the front lines of the affordability crisis here in California. From watching current homeowners stuck and unable to move, and listening to renters about their struggles of achieving homeownership, I’ve realized part of the American Dream is dying, and we must make the right decisions to revive it.
On Feb. 28, 2019, the LAUSD’s Board unanimously voted to place on a June 4, 2019 Special Election ballot a new $500 million property tax on homes, apartments and business properties throughout the City of Los Angeles and within the vast boundaries of the school district. The LAUSD’s proposed property tax would assess a tax of 16-cents per square foot on all properties, which is in addition to an existing 12-cent per square foot property tax already levied by the district, and statewide tax increases dedicated to schools passed by voters in 2012 and 2016. The property tax requires two-thirds voter approval. The Special Election will cost $12.5 million to conduct.
The Board’s decision to tax homeowners, renters and businesses are in direct response to the promises made by the district to meet union demands to end the strike earlier this year. Those promises were made knowing the district did not have the funds to pay for the union’s demands. In fact, the district projects a more than $400 million annual shortfall, due in large measure to skyrocketing health care and pension debt.
The district’s own resolution to place the property tax on the ballot calls for, among other things, money for administrative services. Measure EE has no cap on administrative expenses and, despite district and union claims to the contrary, has no requirement the new tax revenue is spent in the classroom.
Real reforms are needed at the district. However, no reforms are included in Measure EE, just demand by defenders of the failed status quo that taxpayers 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.
While there are many factors contributing to the affordability crisis here in the state, including lack of supply, California’s taxes are among the highest in the nation. If passed, Measure EE would on average, raise homeowners annual taxes $400-$500, making home ownership even more unattainable. Renters can also expect a rise in monthly payments if passed.
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 and reforms must come first.