DTLA—As a former newspaper publisher, I’m acutely aware of the challenge to objectively research and consider both sides of an argument before editorializing. I write today because Downtown News fell short of its duty to hear all sides before opining on Measure EE (“Vote Yes on Measure EE,” May 20).
Even though our coalition is easily reached, the No on EE campaign wasn’t given an opportunity to provide vital information before Downtown News supported EE. Your readers, property owners and voters need to know the facts about why this rushed tax measure isn’t a “must pass” solution to the numerous problems bedeviling the LAUSD.
Here’s why: First, the overwhelming majority of L.A.’s business community opposes EE. Despite contrary claims, nothing in EE guarantees that tax dollars will reach the classroom or children. In fact, language specifically exempting EE funds from going toward retiree pension and healthcare benefits was removed prior to the LAUSD board’s approval of EE.
Second, EE won’t improve a struggling LAUSD. Without measurable reforms outlined and included in the tax measure, it’s simply a “trust us” to throw money at a long-standing problem in the hope that improvement occurs. Our kids deserve better.
Third, EE contains no independent oversight. The district realized EE’s shortcoming and added “oversight” less than a month ago by a majority board vote. This “oversight” is not independent (the superintendent and CFO appoint the members). It has no budget and no staff. Because it’s a resolution, a board majority can alter or cancel it at any time. Only the language included in the actual ballot text becomes law.
Fourth, the overwhelming majority of parcel taxes are a flat rate. The business community voiced concerns about the “progressive” tax, which would make larger homeowners, small businesses, apartment owners and large property owners pay more. The teachers union favors this approach because it’s a prelude to a massive state split roll property tax measure that will appear on the 2020 ballot. They heavily influenced the school board.
When taxes increase, businesses either raise prices, cut costs (employees) or relocate to lower tax jurisdictions. Rents will increase, too. Bottom line, EE will hurt Angelenos living on the edge.
The Downtown News correctly stated the problem: “district costs are rising due in large part to ballooning pension and healthcare requirements, while revenues are decreasing as enrollment shrinks.” But the editorial fails to mention that the district’s response to rising costs and declining enrollment was to hire more administrators.
Finally, the editorial casually mentions the need for the LAUSD to better manage its money (it cites “financial stumbles”). Giving an inefficient and poor-performing bureaucracy more money without any measurable reform solidifies the failed status quo.
Measure EE is a huge new property tax that will make already-expensive housing more expensive and, ultimately, won’t improve the educational climate at the LAUSD. On June 4, vote no on EE.
Tracy Hernandez is the founding CEO of the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed). Learn more at VoteNoOnEE.com.
Copyright 2019 Los Angeles Downtown News