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San Diego Unified To Push For A Parcel Tax

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Aired 3/25/10

In his State of the District address, San Diego Unified School Board President Richard Barrera said the district must secure a parcel tax in November to offset deep budget cuts to education.

— San Diego Unified school board president Richard Barrera says the district must secure a parcel tax in November to offset deep budget cuts to education. He made those statements during his State of the District address on Wednesday. But challenges are already stacking up against the possible ballot measure.

A parcel tax levies fees on property owners within a school district's boundaries. San Diego Unified's tax would pay for employee salaries, math and science programs, and new technology.

District officials say this is the only option they have to avoid layoffs and preserve programs. They’re hoping local residents will pay about $100 a year for five years.

But San Diego’s unemployment rate is still at an all time high. And voters passed a $2 billion school construction bond for the district just two years ago.

Larry Remer is the district’s campaign consultant. He says it’s also hard to assemble a broad-based coalition to push the initiative forward.

“I just think that the leadership structure, the elected leadership structure, the corporate leadership structure, the opinion leadership structure has gotten atomized for whatever set of reasons. So it creates a lot of challenges,” Remer said.

Even so, Remer still thinks there is enough local support for a parcel tax. His preliminary polling numbers show about 64 percent of San Diego voters would lean towards supporting a parcel tax. That's a few votes shy of getting the two-thirds needed to pass a parcel tax in California.

But the San Diego County Taxpayers Association is not convinced. President Lani Lutar says a parcel tax on the November ballot comes at the absolute worst time. She also doesn’t believe district officials would spent the money responsibly.

“The (school administration) has had a very spotty record in terms of their governance, and we've seen this with the changing of superintendents. It’s an issue of concern,” Lutar said. “If the governing board is not managing its existing dollars wisely, you have to ask if they could manage new revenues appropriately.”

Lutar says her group will take an official position once the district releases its final plan. The plan is expected this summer.

Comments

Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | March 25, 2010 at 10:27 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Larry Remer's bogus "push poll" claiming that at least 64% will vote for this parcel tax measure is typical consultant poppycock.

It may indeed get a 2/3 vote -- as did the recent county parcel tax -- which got two thirds AGAINST.

But at least consultant Remer will still get paid.

Remember, the county parcel tax vote was for fire protection -- more popular than more money for schools.

The SDUSD first wastes potentiallly hundreds of millions (over time) of taxpayer money on a union-vote-buying PLA agreement driving up construction costs for the district, and then comes to us claiming money problems.

I hope the board members DO put it on the ballot. We taxpayer advocates will slaughter this measure -- with little funding or effort.

Anyone expecting otherwise, consider contacting me for a wager on whether or not it passes. Since the wager must be done legally and publicly, at least $5,000 must be bet by each side to make the trouble of following the law worthwhile.

And yes, I'm serious.

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Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | March 25, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

Think we Californians are undertaxed? Consider this factsheet:

Breaking Bad: California vs. the Other States
by Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters
Version 1.61 Revised 16 March, 2010
Updated online at:
http://www.open.salon.com/blog/Richard_Rider

Here’s a depressing comparison of California taxes and economic climate with the rest of the states. The news is breaking bad, and getting worse (I keep updating this article):

California has the 3rd worst state income tax in the nation. 9.55% tax bracket at $46,349. 10.55% at $1,000,000
http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59_es.pdf

By far the highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 8.25%. 7% is next highest (does not include local sales taxes)
http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59.pdf Table #15

California corporate income tax rate is the highest in the West (our economic competitors). 8.84%
http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59.pdf Table #8 -- we are 9th highest nationwide.

2010 Business Tax Climate ranks 48th in the nation. http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59_es.pdf

Fourth highest capital gains tax 9.55% http://www.thereibrain.com/realestate-blog/capital-gains-tax-rates-state-by-state/109/

Highest gasoline tax (averaging 65.0 cents/gallon) in the nation (January, 2010). When gas hits $3.00/gallon, we are numero uno – because unlike many states, we charge sales tax on gasoline purchases (built into the price).
http://www.api.org/statistics/fueltaxes/ (also usually highest diesel tax)

California is ranked 27th worst in per capita property taxes (including commercial) – the only area where we are not in the worst ten states. But CA property taxes per home were the 10th highest in the nation in 2008.
http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/251.html and http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/1913.html

One of the highest state vehicle license car taxes. 1.15% per year on value of vehicle, up from 0.65% in 2008.
http://tinyurl.com/lrvmtd

California’s 2009 “Tax Freedom Day” (the day the average taxpayer stops working for government and start working for oneself) is again the 4th worst date in the nation – up from 28th worst in 1994.
http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/387.html

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Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | March 25, 2010 at 10:31 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

(continued)

Fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation. (January, 2010) 12.5%. National unemployment rate 9.7%.
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/laus.nr0.htm

California needlessly licenses more occupations than any state – 177. Second worst state is Connecticut at 155. The average for the states is 92. http://cssrc.us/publications.aspx?id=7707

1 in 5 in LA County receiving public aid. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-welfare22-2009feb22,0,4377048.story

California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 36% of the country’s TANF (“Temporary” Assistance for Needy Families) welfare recipients – more than the next 7 states combined. Unlike other states, this “temporary” assistance becomes much more permanent in CA. http://weblog.signonsandiego.com/weblogs/afb/archives/034662.html

California prison guards highest paid in the nation. http://www.caltax.org/caltaxletter/2008/101708_fraud1.htm

CA teachers the highest paid in the nation – their 2008 $64,424 average salary is over $2,000 higher than 2nd place NY.
http://www.nea.org/home/29402.htm 2008 salaries (CA has the second lowest student test scores)

California is the worst ranked state for tax administration – another anti-business factor.
http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/capitolalertlatest/2010/03/cal-rated-worst.html

California now has the lowest bond ratings of any state, edging out Louisiana.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/19/BA7F16JLKH.DTL

California ranks 44th worst in “2008 lawsuit climate.”
http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/component/ilr_featured_tools/29/item/LAI/19.html

America’s top CEO’s rank California “the worst place in which to do business” for the fourth straight year (3/2009). But here’s the interesting part – they think California is a great state to live (primarily for the great climate) – they just won’t bring their businesses here because of the oppressive tax and regulatory climate.
Consider this quote from the survey (a conclusion reflected in the rankings of the characteristics of the state): “California has huge advantages with its size, quality of work force, particularly in high tech, as well as the quality of life and climate advantages of the state. However, it is an absolute regulatory and tax disaster.” http://tinyurl.com/cyvufy

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Avatar for user 'RichardRider'

RichardRider | March 25, 2010 at 10:34 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

(concluding segment of "Breaking Bad")

California, a destitute state, still gives away college education at fire sale prices. Our community college tuition is by far the lowest in the nation. How low? Nationwide, the average community college tuition is 4.5 times higher than California CC’s. This ridiculously low tuition devalues education to students – resulting in a 30+% drop rate for class completion. In addition, 2/3 of California CC students pay no tuition at all – filling out a simple unverified “hardship” form that exempts them from any tuition payment, or receiving grants and tax credits for their full tuition.
http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/capitolalertlatest/020722.html and http://tinyurl.com/ybrc2kn

On top of that, California offers thousands of absolutely free adult continuing education classes – a sop to the upper middle class. In San Diego, over 1,400 classes for everything from baking pastries to ballroom dancing are offered totally at taxpayer expense. http://www.sdce.edu

Protests about increased UC student fees ignore one crucial point -- all poor and most middle class students don't pay the “fees” (our state’s euphemism for tuition)! There are no fees for California families with under $70K income. Moreover, Pell Grants and federal tuition tax credits cover the total 2009-10 fee increases for nearly 3/4 of all undergraduates with household incomes below $180K. http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/blueandgold/ and www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/a...

California residential electricity costs an average of 37.2% more than the national average (far higher in San Diego County). For industrial use, CA electricity is 44.6% higher than the national average (December, 2009).
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html

Consider California’s net domestic migration (migration between states). From April, 2000 through June, 2008 (8 years, 2 months) California has lost a NET 1.4 million people. The departures slowed in 2008 only because people couldn’t sell their homes. http://www.mdp.state.md.us/msdc/Pop_estimate/Estimate_08/table5.pdf
These are not welfare kings and queens departing. They are the young, the educated, the productive, the ambitious, the wealthy (such as Tiger Woods), and retirees seeking to make their pensions provide more bang for the buck. The irony is that a disproportionate number of these seniors are retired state and local government employees fleeing the state that provides them with their opulent pensions – in order to avoid the high taxes that these same employees pushed so hard through their unions.

As taxes rise and jobs disappear, we lose our tax base, continuing California’s state and local fiscal death spiral. This downward spiral must stop NOW.

NOTE: To see the latest version of this “Breaking Bad” column, plus other goodies, go to my blog at www.RiderBlog.NotLong.com.

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Avatar for user 'LGMike'

LGMike | March 25, 2010 at 3:20 p.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

In any other business requires making changes to assure that it is not running in the "red". San Diego Unified has NEVER (at least in the last 25+ years) done that. If more money came in, they spent it even if it had to add employee's (ie: do nothing jobs) to justify the added money. On top of this, the District has fooled the Public twice now on "must have" money to update existing facilities so students can learn. Prop MM and the current bond have been or will be wasted . History has proven that.
Now they want a parcel tax to "pay employee salaries, math and science programs, and new technology" which is in reality full employement for all existing employee's. Math and Science classes are part of the core classes in any school, and new technology what what was promised on the last Bond Issue. I can remember when a School could run very well with one teacher for each classroom, one Principal, one very good Secretary, usually a school nurse, a librarian (jr and senior hi), and a janitor. Parent volunteers always helped out in the lower grades, there was no vice Principal (usually a senior teacher filled this spot as part of other duties). I can also remember when kids had play time (otherwise known as physical education) and most actually enjoyed school. I would suggest that the District "SHOW ME" you can actually graduate a Hi School senior that doesn't need remedial classes when they get to College, and know something about balancing a budget before they ask for anything more.
As President O'Bama has said "BRING IN ON" and we shall see who wins

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