Published : Thursday, April 1, 2010 | 8:33 AM
We all want our local schools in the Pasadena area toÂ be adequately funded whether we are proponents orÂ opponents of Measure CC â€“ the Mail-In Ballot â€“ ParcelÂ Tax with a May 4 return deadline. Â That is not theÂ issue with Measure CC.
This past year the Pasadena Unified School DistrictÂ (PUSD) acknowledges that it received $23 million inÂ Federal Bailout monies to plug the state budgetÂ shortfall in funding for public schools. Â So PUSD didÂ not suffer any loss in funding this year. It is nextÂ yearâ€™s allocation of state public school funds that isÂ at issue.
The California Legislative Analystâ€™s Office (LAO)Â projects a 2% INCREASE in K-14 public school fundsÂ under Prop 98 for next year:
PROJECTED GENERAL FUND SPENDING FOR PUBLICÂ SCHOOLS
YEAR Â Â Â FUNDING Â Â Â CUMULATIVE PERCENTÂ CHANGE
2008-09 – $34.15 billion
2009-10 – $35.98 billion (+5.4%)
2010-11 – $36.71 billion (+7.5%)
State Prop 98 funds for public schools increased 5.4%Â in 2010 and are forecasted to increase a total ofÂ 7.5% from 2009 to 2011 according to the LAO.
Part of the reason for this is that Prop 98 that wasÂ passed in 1988 and mandates an automatic annualÂ increase in education spending in the CaliforniaÂ budget during stable economic years. In years ofÂ weak economic growth Prop 98 guarantees no lessÂ than the prior years spending plus adjustment forÂ enrollment growth, increases for any changes in perÂ capital general fund revenues, and an automaticÂ increase by 0.5 percent in state general funds. IfÂ school districts statewide are willing to accept aÂ decrease in funding for one year due to stress on theÂ state budget, that decrease must eventually be paidÂ back. Â http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_98_(1988)
However, because of the precarious situation of theÂ State budget, letâ€™s assume for a moment that PUSDÂ may actually suffer a hypothetical budget cut of itsÂ State school funds of about 3.5% (or $7 million) asÂ they contend.
PUSD still will have received 5.4% more state fundsÂ from 2010 to carry over into 2011.
However, there are three other â€œkillerâ€ reasons whyÂ not to vote for Measure CC. One is that activitiesÂ that can be funded on a bond issue can be switchedÂ after an election at the sole discretion of the PUSDÂ Board. Â In other words there is no guarantee thatÂ PUSD will not â€œbait and switchâ€ Measure CC fundsÂ from the classroom and instead divert funds to socialÂ service programs, health clinics, or crony consultantsÂ as it has recently.
For example in 1998 L.A County voters approved PropÂ A half cent sales tax increase for public transitÂ projects with the promise to middle class taxpayersÂ that the funds would be used to fund undercrossingsÂ that would relieve local traffic congestion caused byÂ the Gold Line light rail. As soon as the bond wasÂ passed, Zev Yaroslavsky on the MTA BoardÂ unilaterally had the undercrossings provision removedÂ without going back to the voters. Without thatÂ provision Prop A might not have passed.
Such sweetener provisions in a bond are calledÂ ”Ginger Bread” and are included just to get the votersÂ to approve the bond then removed afterward. ThereÂ is no LOCK-IN for Measure CC that guarantees thatÂ bond funds will not be used for undisclosed activities. Â This is crucial because, unlike a Property Tax, aÂ Parcel Tax can legally be used “for anything.”
Another killer problem with Measure CC is that if theÂ State of California does NOT cut Prop 98 schoolÂ funds, PUSD will reap a windfall while Pasadena’sÂ homeowners suffer through the Depression. There isÂ no provision in Measure CC that if the state fullyÂ funds or increases funds for PUSD that the taxes fromÂ Measure CC will not be collected and that any taxÂ overage will be credited on homeownerâ€™s tax bills.Â Measure CC is a double dip of taxes unless the stateÂ reduces it share of taxes.
A third reason is that there is no guarantee that theÂ state will not just reduce the amount of its funding toÂ PUSD dollar-for-dollar for any monies gained fromÂ Measure CC. This would be a trick way for CaliforniaÂ to indirectly raise state taxes in a Depression andÂ then shift those funds to state social services, etc.
The following list of deceptive past actions of PUSDÂ do not give the voting public confidence that MeasureCC bond funds will all be spent in the classroom asÂ PUSD contends: hiding the misuse of prior bondÂ monies until an audit revealed it, failure to set up anÂ accountability oversight board with teeth to overseeÂ bond spending, constructing a new school building atÂ Blair High School that is unneeded except to provideÂ jobs for the well-connected, and renovating manyÂ excess school buildings which are not being used withÂ prior bond funds.
PUSD erroneously contends that it has one of theÂ largest classroom sizes in L.A. County. Â Actually,Â according to the California Department of EducationÂ website, Pasadena has one of the very lowestÂ student teacher ratios as shown below:
Alhambra â€“ 24.8
Glendora â€“ 23.6
Arcadia â€“ 23.5
La Canada â€“ 23.5
South Pasadena â€“ 23.2
Pomona â€“ 22.7
Monrovia â€“ 22.1
Burbank â€“ 21.6
Malibu â€“ 20.8
San Marino â€“ 20.8
LAUSD â€“ 20.5
PUSD â€“ 20.4
(Source: Cal Dept. Education, ED-DATA)
There is no guarantee Measure CC funds will be spentÂ in the classroom.
There is no guarantee in Measure CC that if the StateÂ fully funds or increases funds to PUSD in any yearÂ that no taxes will be collected.
PUSD has one of the very lowest classroom sizes inÂ the County.
There is no guarantee the state won’t just reduce itsÂ share of school funding dollar-for-dollar for anyÂ monies from Measure CC.
PUSDâ€™s management of past bond issues has not beenÂ responsible and PUSD cannot be trusted.
I urge you to VOTE NO ON MEASURE CC- THE GINGERÂ BREAD PARCEL TAX – with a deadline of May 4.