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Davis, California

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Measure E creates tension within community

While other counties are waiting to see if Proposition 30 will pass and how many cuts they may face next year, the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) is trying to take a preemptive measure.

The proponents for Measure E state that this is a way to safeguard against Prop. 30 failing. Opponents argue the measure isn’t a transparent process and creates new taxes that would cost residents more than necessary, especially in a recession.

There are two propositions on the ballot to increase funding for public schools. Gov. Jerry Brown and Molly Munger, an attorney, both proposed initiatives to help public schools: Prop. 30 and Prop. 38, respectively.

According to the California Voter Guide, Prop. 30 and Prop. 38 both allocate money to K-12 schools, although they propose different ways of doing it — Prop. 30 plans to tax those who make over $250,000 for seven years and increase the sales tax by 25 cents. Prop. 38 proposes a tax for incomes over $7,316 for 12 years.

Measure E replaces a current parcel tax, Measure A. However, Don Saylor, member of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, said there is guaranteed money if Prop. 30 doesn’t pass.

“[The bill is to] anticipate the possibility that Prop. 30 will not pass, and to support the school system,” Saylor said.

If the proposition doesn’t pass, then there will be a supplementary tax allocated toward school children, grades K-12.

“Davis has supported parcel taxes since 1982,” Saylor said. “It’s a long-standing tradition in the community. The Davis community values education. I think it’s largely from the university’s location here.”

However, some of the support has turned into threats. Jose Granda, a candidate running for the DJUSD School Board, received a letter written on Oct. 17, referencing a “No on Measure E” sign.

“Davis supports schools. Take down your no on C [sic] sign or we will do it for you (and f— up your house). Vote Yes! on C,” the letter said.

Granda was upset when he received the threat.

“Measures are won with solid, logical arguments, not with threats and intimidation,” he said. “The fact that supporters of Measure E have resorted to these tactics is an indication of the weakness of their arguments and their concern that I may get elected.”

Granda said that he has been subject to attacks because of his stance, and that he was not invited to the Measure E forum at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

 “With intimidation, taking our signs from front yards [and] replacing others with theirs, the only thing they may accomplish is to put the Yes on E campaign on life support,” Granda said.

Supporters of Measure E deny affiliation with the vandalism.

“It’s just campaign tactics at the end of a desperate campaign,” said Richard Harris, a member of the DJUSD School Board.

Other members of the campaign expressed sympathy.

“We live in a society where diversity of opinion needs to be honored and respected. I’m very supportive of Measure E and I think it’s critical and important for the schools we treasure,” Saylor said.

Since Prop. 13 stalled homeowners’ taxes in 1978, school districts have relied on the general fund. This measure in Davis would give the school district its own tax to draw on. But this is not an expansion, Harris explained.
“What we’re doing in Measure E is just maintaining what we have right now. It’s not an expansion — frankly I wish it was,” Harris said.
Instead, he said it is a measure to make sure that the schools keep receiving the same funding.
On the other hand, Thomas Randall, coordinator of the No School Board Taxes campaign, doesn’t believe that the bill has gone through the right channels.
“This situation is a great contrast to the numerous community organizations that had been conducting forums in regard to the candidacies of the School Board candidates. This is a problem because it precludes extensive and therefore effective community discussion of this issue,” Randall said in an email.
Granda said that there are other legal issues to consider.
“The ballot language is problematic and chances are that it will be challenged in court whether it passes or not,” Granda said. “They knew about the legal problems that an obscure language on the ballot could cause and they still proceeded. They cannot claim it was an error, but a deliberate act of arrogance.”

Saylor, on the other hand, disagreed based on the current financial situation of Davis schools.

“The ever-increasing financial challenges that are facing school districts make Measure E even more important,” Saylor said. “The reason this is included here is that in the past, over the past several years, they’ve been too late to adjust the budget or to address new problem[s].”

Prop. 30, Prop. 38 and Measure E, in part, come after increasing anger over reduction of school teachers and an increase in prices for university education.

The latest poll by the California Business Roundtable indicates 49.2 percent in favor of Prop. 30, while Prop. 38 is behind with only 33 percent of “Yes” voters.

While Prop. 30 only needs a simple majority, Measure E needs a two-thirds vote. Yet Harris feels confident about the measure passing despite the difficulties of attaining a supermajority.

“That’s why it’s tough to adopt local funding. But we’ve always done it. We’ve never failed, and frankly I don’t plan that we’ll fail this time,” Harris said.

Recently, Randall stated he wants Measure E to go to federal court. Measure E opponents said that the measure has confusing language and that it breaches the 14th Amendment. Non-Davis residents sending their kids to Davis schools, senior citizens and people living in multi-dwelling apartments would not be subject to the potential new tax, an issue that Randall and others find seriously flawed.
“We want the public to know that what we want is fair and equal treatment of all Davis residents. It is not fair or ethical that some groups get to vote on a tax they do not have to pay and impose it on homeowners,” Randall said.
Randall and others plan to file a restraining order against Measure E this week.JULIE WEBB can be reached at city@theaggie.org. 


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