By Jose J. Granda and Thomas Randall Jr.
Before you vote on Measure E you should give serious consideration to the following facts and questions:
The Davis Unified School District’s 2011-12 budget reveals that the district received $70.3 million in revenue — $8,707 per student — most of it from our state income taxes. The parcel tax generates only $3.2 million ($398 per student. Its impact is minuscule compared with the $70.3 million that is responsible for Davis schools’ excellence. Proponents of Measure E want you to believe that the parcel taxes are responsible for maintaining quality schools. In reality, it is the $70.3 million that is responsible, not the parcel taxes.
The school board has placed three measures on the ballot in 18 months: Measure A (May 2011), Q, and W blended as Measure C (March 2012) and now Measure E. It is as if the school board treats Davis taxpayers as an ATM where cash is readily available. Three trips to the ATM in 18 months? Fair to the taxpayers?
Some get to vote so that others pay. Measure E allows senior citizens, regardless of income, not to pay these parcel taxes, but they get to vote to impose these taxes on you, the homeowner. Is that fair?
Some do not pay the parcel taxes at all and do not live in Davis but get to send their kids to Davis schools for free. A total of 450 students from out-of-town families who do not pay these parcel taxes get a free ride. How fair is that to Davis residents? Measure E does nothing about this.
Others do not pay these taxes equally but they also get the same educational services. Regardless of income, those who live in apartments will pay $20, but if you live in a home you will pay $446. That is 22 times more. However, the education provided to children from parents who live in apartments is exactly the same as that for kids who live in a home. This group, too, gets a free ride and gets to vote to impose the taxes on you, the homeowner. Is that fair? Measure E does not consider income; it is based on where you live.
Measure E is not a renewal of Measure A. Proponents attempt to sell you that way. It is an unfair, new, more expensive tax. Measure A was a two-year emergency measure at a cost to the taxpayers of $6.4 million over two years. Measure E could cost taxpayers $12.8 million, double the cost of Measure A, and it is for four years. How fair is that?
Measure E asks you to pay $204 plus $242, if Proposition 30 does not pass ($446), in addition of the $320 already in force under Measure C, for a total of $766.
Money is wasted. There are four district administrators in Davis that together make $655,000 a year, the equivalent of 19 teachers at an entry-level salary. Measure E does nothing to address this problem.
Measure E has an automatic increase based on the consumer price index. You will not know the exact amount of parcel taxes you will pay or exactly what you are voting for until you get your property tax bill.
These parcel taxes are not deductible from your income taxes. You will pay taxes on these taxes. Nowadays, people are losing their jobs and their homes and cannot afford $524 or $766 under Measure E.
Davis taxpayers have blindly thrown money to the school board, expecting it to do the right thing. After nearly 30 years of these parcel taxes, plus the $70.3 million taxpayers paid in 2011-12, they are running a structural deficit of $3.5 million a year that now they want to pass on to you in the form of Measure E. That’s even in light of overcrowded classes and facilities in poor condition. How fair is that?
The school board’s campaign of deception is to threaten to fire the teachers and dismantle programs if you do not agree to pass these unfair parcel taxes. After Measure C passed in March, they laid off 47 teachers anyway, greatly affecting the children’s education instead of making it better, despite the fact that saving the teachers’ jobs was a tactic used to pass Measure C. The school board canceled language classes, deceiving the taxpayers. Why should you throw more money on a broken system and reward them for these actions?
There are now combination classes where a teacher has students in two grades. This happens in Third World countries and now, despite the $70.3 million plus the parcel taxes, it is happening in Davis. It points to a total failure of the parcel tax system and to the need for a new approach.
Measure A, the origin of Measure E, passed by only 84 votes. A total of 5,403 Davis residents voted against it last year. The time has come to pull everybody together and send a clear message to the school board to balance the budget and be responsible for efficiently managing the taxpayers’ money. The time has come to take fresh, new approach and move forward with the goal of excellence in education but with sound financial responsibility to the taxpayers, and equal and fair treatment for everyone.
Please vote no on Measure E.
— Jose J. Granda is a professor of mechanical engineering at Sacramento State University and has lived in Davis since 1978. He is running for school board in the Nov. 6 election. Thomas Randall Jr. is a 39-year resident of Davis and a 1985 graduate of Davis High School. He was the alternate student representative on the Davis Board of Education in 1983-84.