Should It Be Easier To Pass School Parcel Taxes in Martinez?

Some lawmakers in Sacramento want to lower the threshold for approval to 55 percent.

Since 1983 there have been 52 parcel tax elections in Contra Costa County and 25 of them failed. However, 19 of those unusccessful elections would have prevailed had the threshold for passing been 55 percent rather than two-thirds. 

Martinez Unified School District didn't need the help. The district has passed two parcel taxes since 1983[see table below], but statewide only one in 10 California school districts have a parcel tax in place, and more than 50 percent of those districts are in the Bay Area. That was just one of the findings in a report EdSource announced Wednesday looking at almost 30 years of parcel tax data.

The report comes as a Democratic supermajority in Sacramento eyes amending the state constitution to make it easier for school districts to pass parcel taxes. California’s voters would still have to approve an amendment lowering the passage threshold from two-thirds to 55 percent, but recent polls show that voters are in favor of giving schools more money and more control over how to spend it.

Here are some of the more interesting conclusions from the EdSource report:

  • Since 1983, there have been 608 parcel tax elections in California. While roughly half passed with a two-thirds majority, 87 percent would have passed if the bar had been set at 55 percent.
  • Richer districts are more likely to pass a parcel tax.
  • Districts with parcel taxes that received 55 percent of the vote, but still failed, were more likely to have higher numbers of poor students, black students and Latino students. 

The EdSource report asks if lowering the threshold to 55 percent would augment Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to provide more money to poor students in the state's public schools, or would it only make it easier for more affluent districts to create new funding sources? 

What do you think? Would you support a plan to lower the voting threshold to 55 percent?



Martinez USD Parcel Taxes, 1983-2012 District Tax Purpose Approval rate Election Date Martinez Unified $50/parcel - 5 years Small class sizes, textbooks/materials, technology, science, art, music, library, counselors. 69.59 11/1/2008 Martinez Unified $50/year for 5 years "To continue funding academic programs that provide college and career pathways and help maintain student-teacher ratios, offset State budget cuts to education funding, improve access to modern technology, and maintain art, music and band programs, library services and counselors, shall Martinez Unified School District renew its expiring parcel tax at $50 per parcel annually for five years, with an exemption for seniors, age 65 or over, an independent citizens’ oversight committee, and all funds benefiting local schools?" (Ballotpedia) 68.65 11/6/2012
Paul L Wilson May 09, 2013 at 11:43 PM
No and no more taxes I am taxed out!
CarolH May 15, 2013 at 12:36 AM
No and no more taxes! Pretty soon parents won't have any money left in their pay checks to feed their children, keep them a safe place to live and get them to school. Property owners are taxes enough! We are all taxed out between the states taxes, city taxes, county taxes, higher sales tax, gas taxes, payroll taxes and many other taxes- cut the spending and cut the school administration layers. Easy for parents of school children who do not own a home to vote yes - they don't have to pay the increased taxes!
Patrick J. McNamara June 01, 2013 at 04:21 PM
I think as long as statutory wastefulness in public spending remains as obvious and indisputable as it has been in recent history, any tax increases should continue to require a supermajority. The problem with school system spending is that most all revenue is fungible. Wasteful spending in department A can be covered up and drawn from the budget of department B, which elicits cries for the poor children in department B. Sacramento knows full well there will always be enough gullible voters to fall for a "save the children" tax ruse. Tax revenue misusers and their highly paid enablers should continue to be required to fool more of the people all of the time.


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