LA civic leaders stump for struggling tax extension ballot measure

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Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. Unified and labor leaders held a news conference today to urge Sacramento lawmakers to place a measure on the ballot to extend some taxes to raise funds for public schools.

A cross section of Los Angeles civic leaders on Monday stumped for Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to raise money for public schools by extending some taxes.

At a news conference shoulder to shoulder, stood L.A. Unified board members, charter school officials, labor union leaders and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“I don’t have to tell you from time to time the next speaker and I have been on different sides of the podium,” said Villaraigosa, “he usually with a bullhorn, me behind the podium.”

He meant United Teachers Los Angeles president AJ Duffy, who’s protested Villaraigosa’s school reform policies. The opposition was on pause as Duffy urged Sacramento lawmakers to place a measure on the ballot that would raise money for public schools by extending California’s sales, vehicle and income taxes.

“Our state has cut $20 billion over the last three years in education funds and that’s well over $2 billion for Los Angeles Unified,” said Duffy. “Our only chance to maintain public education is to extend the temporary taxes for the next five years.”

After the news conference Villaraigosa said he and other speakers aimed their message directly at Sacramento Republicans.

“I’m not here to try to rile them, I want them to do the right thing,” said Villaraigosa. “Everybody in the room knows it’s a small group of Republicans holding the state hostage. And what we’re saying is we cannot completely undermine the progress we’ve made in our schools."

Many Sacramento lawmakers have joined a pledge begun by a national anti-tax organization to oppose any efforts to increase taxes. California’s plan to cut school spending led L.A. Unified administrators to send out thousands of preliminary layoff notices to instructors in recent weeks.

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