So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LAUSD school board to vote on removing parcel tax from November ballot

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Teachers, parents and supporters rally as the Los Angeles Unified School District board meets to consider budget cuts and layoffs.

The L.A. Unified school board will vote Tuesday on removing the parcel tax from the November ballot after Superintendent John Deasy requested the district postpone its fund-raising effort until after the election, a district spokesman said today.

The board approved placing the parcel tax on the ballot in March. It was supposed to help the district close its budget shortfall and provide reliable education funding in light of the constant state cuts. But over the last few months the November ballot has grown crowded with initiatives asking voters to raise taxes.

Last week Deasy expressed worry that this would jeopardize approval of Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative.

"We run a risk of having too many measures before the public," Deasy said in a statement

He said it is important for voters to focus on Brown's initiative, which will increase sales tax and income tax on higher earners. If Brown's measure does not pass, education will face a roughly $6 billion cut under the governor's proposed budget.


How did we get here? California taxes and education funding

Tax Preparers Help Last-Minute Filers As Tax Deadline Looms

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A pedestrian walks by an H & R Block office on April 15, 2011 in San Francisco.

With Los Angeles voters facing a parcel tax to raise money for schools, and the governor's initiative to raise sales tax and taxes on higher-income earners this November to avoid cutting $5.2 billion in education funding, some people have wondered what exactly happens to their regular annual taxes.

You know, the ones due today.

People have asked me what the state does with their money. Especially since California has the highest statewide sales tax rate and one of the highest income tax rates in the country. How is it possible that the state is 47th in the nation on per-pupil spending when so much of that money is supposed to go to education?

I spoke with H.D. Palmer, the deputy director for the California Department of Finance today who tried to explain how we got here.

"What happened was the recession," Palmer said. "That's the short-form version of it."


LA Unified's parcel tax math

Teachers Protest

Damian Dovarganes/AP

File: Teachers, parents and supporters rally as the Los Angeles Unified School District board meets to consider budget cuts and layoffs, which include adult education, preschool and elementary school arts programs, in Los Angeles on Tuesday Feb. 14, 2012.

L.A. Unified is hoping voters will pass a $298 parcel tax in November to help raise about $255 million annually for schools from property owners within district boundaries and improve future budget forecasts.

The district currently faces a $390 million budget shortfall. The school board approved putting the annual tax before voters for the November ballot last month.

"Sacramento cannot take this money away," said Superintendent John Deasy in his presentation to the board. "They cannot cut this fund; this fund goes directly to our schools."

Here's how the parcel tax math would work out:

Property owners within LAUSD boundaries would pay $298 annually for five years starting in 2013-14.

The $255 million in revenue is drawn from the district estimate of about 928,000 parcels within its boundaries, with about 36,000 owned by seniors, said LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman. Low-income seniors would be exempt from the tax, but the definition of whom this includes is still being formulated, Waldman said.


More state budget murkiness leaves education hanging

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California Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown is reportedly backing off portions of a tax proposal he introduced in January that play a major piece in his 2012 budget plan and the prevention of up to $5.2 billion in cuts to education.

The initial proposal would have called for a half-cent increase to sales tax and raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more. Instead, he appears to be looking for a smaller sales tax increase and a higher raise on taxes for those upper-income earners.

Brown unveiled the tax proposal with his 2012 budget plan, which depends on the governor getting the initiative on the ballot and approved by voters. Without the tax increases, the budget calls for an additional $5.2 billion in cuts to education.

What happens with the state budget will likely have a major ripple effect on school budgets, which are being formulated now, despite the host of many unknowns given the state's budget situation.