LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A parcel tax that would have generated an estimated $500 million a year for the Los Angeles Unified School District was easily defeated in Tuesday night’s special election.

Measure EE fell short by a margin of 54.32 to 45.68 percent, far lower than then two-thirds majority required for passage, according to semiofficial results from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder.

FILE — Striking LAUSD teachers and supporters rally outside Los Angeles City Hall amid a teachers’ strike on Jan. 18, 2019. (Getty Images)

The LAUSD Board of Education “made the right decision to place this on the ballot,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said defiantly at a news conference Wednesday outside Western Avenue Elementary School in South L.A.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti grew emotional during the press conference, composing himself as he pledged to continue the fight.

“We’ve got fights coming, and we’re going to be there,” he said, “And you’re right we’re going to punch back.”

If approved, it would have imposed a levy of 16 cents per square foot of building improvements on properties within the district. On a 1,700-square-foot home, that would have amounted to another $272 of tax per year.

The parcel tax would have remained in effect for 10 years and would have raised an estimated $500 million a year.

A parcel tax is not based on the assessed value of a property, but is generally a flat fee based on square footage. It requires a two-thirds margin for approval.

LAUSD desperately needed the tax to pass in order to cover the increase in costs associated with the latest teachers’ union contract.

In January, LAUSD’s 34,000 teachers went on a 9-day strike, the first such strike in 30 years. It finally came to an end when the district reached a deal with teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which included a 6 percent pay hike for teachers and an increase in support staff at each school, such as librarians and counselors. The deal also included a reduction in class sizes.

“Ninety-five percent of our money goes to schools,” Beutner told CBS2 Monday. “We’re reducing the administrative side, we’re reducing health care costs. All those things are being done. [Measure EE] is just a referendum on whether we believe in public education.”

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and Beutner, who are often at loggerheads politically, presented a unified front on the campaign trail in support of the measure, insisting it is vital for district’s financial future.

The measure was vocally opposed by business interests, led by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber contended there was no guarantee the money raised by the measure would go toward reducing classroom size or funding nurses and librarians in schools — all while the district has no plan for addressing its “unfunded pension obligations, increasing healthcare costs or cost structure of a large organization with declining student enrollment.”

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

Comments (6)
  1. marlene hessler says:

    Get the UNIONS out of public school education and everyone will benefit. Particularly the kids.

  2. The fraud known as Measure EE was for lavish teacher pensions and their gold standard health care.

  3. Mark Nelson says:

    I can’t imagine providing any money to a reckless district that approved a teachers union contract that bankrupts the district in 3 short years by using up all the reserves. It’s a fast track to LA County takeover.

  4. Carl Marks says:

    Stunned…, Please…

  5. Shawn A McClenahan says:

    Amazing how tone deaf the media has been. This was not a vote against teachers or kids. It was a vote against the abuse of the process by LAUSD. It was notice that the majority of voters no longer accept “it’s for the kids” as a mask for other priorities. It was a rejection of meaningless oversight provisions that provide no real accountability or penalties. It is a return to putting responsibility for failure squarely on the shoulders of those who cynically take advantage of both teachers and kids by serving only a corrupt administration. It won’t be any different next time.

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