It appears as of this writing the Los Angeles Unified School District’s attempt to rush a parcel tax increase through has failed. With over 90% of the precincts reporting Measure EE is trailing 46% to 53%–and it needed a two-thirds vote to pass.
Recent California elections don’t post final results for days after Election Day. Any late mailed ballots or so-called harvested ballots might change the final figures but it is unlikely to change the fact that those seeking tax increases lost.
Reading the tealeaves, what does that mean in the broader political picture?
Many commentators, including this one, said the Measure EE campaign was a dry run for the split roll property tax measure on the November 2020 ballot. Business would pick up the lion’s share of the tax increase if Measure EE passed. The split roll is aimed at business. The Measure EE result indicates business won’t be an easy target.
The split roll needs only a majority vote to pass, however. Yet, it is telling that in the liberal city of Los Angeles, Measure EE apparently couldn’t achieve even that more modest goal.
Another factor to consider: the tax raising side of the campaign had more money and big name supporters, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and some Democratic presidential candidates. Yet, it still flopped.
While it is unclear at this point who the endorsers for or against a split roll would be, one thing is certain—the business community has pledged to outspend the supporters of the split roll in the campaign and have more money on the No side.
Supporters of tax increases for schools will criticize the timing of the election. A special election brings out a smaller voter base, which tends to be more conservative. It appears the LAUSD vote turnout will be a little over 10%. Putting the measure on a ballot that attracts more liberal voters perhaps would give it a better chance. Two such elections are coming up in March and November 2020.
Will the school board try again at those elections?
Or will the board be responsive to criticism leveled against Measure EE—that the district needs to clean up its financial status, deal with burgeoning pension and health care costs, and show improved academics before reaching out to the taxpayers again?