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LA Schools to Seek State Money After Ballot Measure Fails

By Christopher Weber - Rep: June 12, 2019

After voters overwhelmingly rejected a property tax that would have raised $500 million annually for the financially struggling Los Angeles Unified School District, the superintendent, mayor and head of the teachers’ union vowed on June 5 to work together to get more state money for schools.

Riding a wave of public support after settling a six-day teachers' strike in January, the union had joined leaders of the nation’s second-largest school district to promote Measure EE. It would have taxed commercial and residential properties 16 cents per square foot of indoor space for 12 years to help pay for the teachers’ contract and other obligations.

The measure on June 4’s low-interest special election ballot did not come close to garnering the necessary two-thirds majority for approval (finishing with a “yes” vote below 50 percent).

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who helped broker the settlement of the teachers strike, acknowledged the decision to call a special election was risky. He said it came from a sense of urgency over the dire, long-term financial picture of schools. The district is projecting a half-billion-dollar deficit this budget year and has billions more obligated for pension payments and health coverage for retired teachers. Student enrollment – which determines how much money the district gets from the state – has been declining as many parents choose to send their children to charter schools.

"It’s time to take the fight to Sacramento," Superintendent Austin Beutner said at a news conference with the mayor. "We'll ask the governor and Legislature for additional funding for our schools, and we'll continue to inform the communities we serve about the need for local funding for local schools."

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state budget proposal includes "historic investments in schools and support for districts like LAUSD," his office said in a statement Wednesday. The spending plan includes a $3 billion one-time payment to California’s teacher pension fund. The governor has also said he wants to help districts that are seeing more of their budgets eaten up by pension obligations.

Source: U.S. News and World Report

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