LAUSD’s many taxing troubles

In a situation being watched throughout California, the Los Angeles Unified School District is aggressively pushing a heavy parcel tax on all property owners within its jurisdiction. For taxpayers, this raises a fundamental question: Why does the state need more money when California is already near the top in tax collections among all states?

LAUSD is faced with many problems. Impossible promises made to its unions, failure to economize spending, abject failure to implement long-needed reforms and declining enrollment are compounding the district’s woes. However, lack of revenue is not one of them.

The district’s response to its own mistakes makes the Keystone Kops look like paragons of competence, especially considering how the parcel tax proposal was placed on the ballot.

The LAUSD board approved the tax at its Feb. 28, 2019 board meeting by passing a resolution that incorporated the “full text” of the tax.  During that meeting, board members asked district staff and the district’s legal counsel if any changes to the resolution could be made after receiving board approval. The LAUSD board was correctly informed that any change to the resolution would require further board action — in a public meeting — and all changes would have to be made by March 13, 2019.  If changes were not approved, the tax proposal would be legally defective.

Despite this, on March 11, 2019, Superintendent Austin Beutner sent a letter to Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters, Dean Logan, asking him to significantly alter the board-approved language. But as the board itself was first advised, moving forward with ballot language that was never approved by the LAUSD board violates both the Brown Act and the Elections Code.

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