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Good intentions, hard consequences

Original post made on Aug 30, 2020

How is it that, with the very best of intentions, we charge the poor so heavily for their own opportunities?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

Comments (3)

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Posted by Friendly neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 30, 2020 at 7:25 pm

Friendly neighbor is a registered user.

I'm sorry, this opinion piece comes off as just another anti-tax crusade, advocating against any taxes whatsoever. The author deceptively focuses on the property taxes that go to school districts, ignoring the property taxes that will go to the fire district, libraries and other city services.

Furthermore, the fact that Menlo Park, Palo Alto and other school districts around here are "basic aid" districts and will not see a proportional increase in school funding from the passage of this bill is because basic aid districts already get more than their fair share of funding.

If you think of the greater good, and not just consider your selfish local interests, you will see this proposition does a lot to rectify historical inequities in property tax liability and education funding around the state.


10 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 31, 2020 at 5:37 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Oops — it turns out that the Almanac doesn’t include graphics in its online version. The print edition and online .pdf include the graphic that shows the city, county, and special district share of the new tax (along with schools and the outflow to the state fund). Please take a look as it indicates the sheer magnitude of what the proposition proposes to take away from Ravenswood and Redwood City in relation to either school or city/fire/county funding. The more moderate amounts removed from Menlo Park and Las Lomitas are also included, and the tiny fractions from Portola Valley and Woodside. And, by extension, from basic-aid Sequoia Union High, which serves them all.

Local basic-aid districts already get their “fair" share of funding? Are you including Redwood City and Cabrillo — which ‘became' basic-aids last December? Their local property tax finally outstripped the state’s 2-3% annual cost-of-living increase in the Local Control Funding Formula by a few dollars per student. That formula is flat statewide — a student in our area gets exactly the same allowance as one in Fresno, Mendocino, LA or Yreka despite widely disparate local staffing and service costs.

In fact, regional costs on the Peninsula are at least 24% over the state average. Having its property tax outrun that flat formula, “becoming a basic-aid," is the only chance any school here — indeed, in the entire Bay Area — has of providing its students anything approaching an adequate public education. Snatching that cup from Ravenswood's lips — in the name of ‘fairness’ — amazes me. (As it will probably amaze other local districts that just crossed over — Redwood City, Cabrillo, San Mateo-Foster City — and will be pushed backwards as the proposition allocates all future commercial-industrial school property tax growth to its distributive mechanics.)

Meanwhile, are you aware that our local services — fire, library, city and county, harbor, etc. — receive over 50% more per-capita property tax than the state average? That San Mateo County allocates $1,400 a person, compared with $900 elsewhere? Or that they then get hundreds of millions of dollars of “excess” educational funding that, apparently, our local low-property-tax districts (Ravenswood, Daly City, Pacifica) don’t need? In the link below to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, you will see this information in February 2020’s Excess ERAF report.

To dismiss me as a selfish anti-taxer is, perhaps, not friendly, neighbor. Indeed, fighting the bruising parcel tax fights for my local district made me aware of the civic costs of endless statewide “for your schools” measures that don’t improve school funding. And feel free to check out the conservative anti-tax blogs excoriating me for my stand in favor of closing the loophole before the Assembly Tax & Revenue Committee in 2015. (I give them some credit — their authors used their real names.)

Finally, please realize that I have done the endless, soul-destroying work of following school funding through all its twists and turns to try to figure out how to help all the kids in this state. Enemy number one? Total lack of transparency — billions go “to schools” that don’t get there ... for example, the $300 million of excess Educational Funding in this county. Does this measure help? No, it is even worse than usual. It piously requires recipients to document every penny they receive — but places no requirements on counties or the statewide fund to document regularly what is collected, what is sent to Sacramento on behalf of schools, or where those new billions are actually disbursed.

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 2, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Long Time Resident is a registered user.

Excellent, informative analysis, Jennifer. I have read your deeply researched posts over the years and they are uniformly compelling. Keep telling it like it is, and encouraging voters to look beyond simplistic and often misleading proposition titles to really understand what they are voting for.


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