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Measure EE Failed. Where’s the Money Coming From Now?

Come on...

With the exception of voters in CD12, yesterday’s special election was a straight shot: one singular ballot measure, EE, which would generate a separate education fund for LAUSD from a proposed property tax of 16 cents per square foot. EE provided the public school system with a desperately-needed windfall, one primarily paid for by large commercial businesses and wealthy homeowners.

The ballot question straight-up listed an estimate of $500 million (!!!) for 12 years, used to retain quality teachers, reduce class sizes, provide counseling, nursing and safety services, improve education and career programs, even support homeless and financially-disadvantaged students. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone against any of this stuff, especially in a Los Angeles that showed out “red for ed” when the LAUSD teachers went on strike earlier this year.

So yeah, naturally, Measure EE did not pass. It didn’t come close. LA’s left continues to take Ls, while LA’s controlling actors continue to demonstrate greed, indifference and stale sunburned pretzel logic. The results of yesterday’s election thoroughly suck. There’s little time afforded for brooding and mourning, though, because that money still needs to come through, one way or another. Policy movements in Los Angeles coil up quick without money being put to mouths.

The city agreed to a strike settlement that it cannot afford long-term. The tangible gains made in January and February are relegated to symbolic wins if there’s not enough funding to, you know, make the changes happen. If these things don’t happen, certain institutions will be left out to die, simple as that. There are no more public schools in New Orleans now. Money talks, bullshit walks the tightrope, to borrow the words of a wise man from that city. Proposition HHH was a hard-fought win, yet without money for execution, it’s been rendered ineffective, almost as if it wasn’t democratically and collectively approved in the first place.

Something has to give. The money needs to come from somewhere, or all this barely happened, right? The teachers’ union is popular, and the strike was a galvanzing, far-reaching moment. So, Los Angeles, let’s get that money.

Everyone loves money. It is not surprising to see voters reject another tax in a low-turnout local election. California is the most heavily-taxed state in America, and Garcetti’s Los Angeles has been particularly egregious when it comes to farting away taxpayer dollars. Repeated policy failures erode trust, even legitimacy, to a community that knows it doesn’t have to be like this.

Maybe let’s slice off a bit of this sweet “money” stuff from something already strapped with a cartoonish amount of public funding, like, oh, say, the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD gets an absurd $1.61 billion from the city budget. Any resident that has experienced LA’s carousel of rising rents, stagnant wages, filthy streets, terrible traffic and wildfire threats should be incensed over how their taxes will be spent in 2019:

City of Los Angeles / openbudget.LAcity.org

I live in Hollywood, where no fewer than four (sleek, totally tricked-out) police SUVs will roll up on a singular unhoused person to issue a citation. Again, it doesn’t have to be like this, and even a slight cut from this budget would prove critical for communal good. For real, think about how much we as a city spend on cops: Garcetti green-lit a whopping $165 million from the budget this year for LAPD overtime pay.

This would all be a non-starter if not for Proposition 13, an insidious amendment to the state constitution from 1978, that essentially allows welfare queens like Apple, Facebook and Google to run shop in California without paying taxes. Prop 13 saves homeowners $30 billion this year alone. Dispiriting as it is, thinking ahead to the next round of local elections, there’s a chance that a 2020 initiative will call for a roll back of Prop 13’s corporate protections. There sure is a lot of money being protected and funneled by this decrepit product of Reaganism.

Or, hey, how about cancelling the forthcoming Olympics? Los Angeles is, to put it delicately, a flailing hot mess right now. Again, why are we planning a huuuuuge party when our schools are broke, our people are unhoused and our overlords are spewing carbon into the air? This should be the liberal wake-up call, the come-to-Pelosi moment, the localized version of Trump’s victory for those who frequent Erewhon. Our city looks really, really bad right now! Our leaders are failing, some are openly not trying, and the results get increasingly grimmer and dumber. This should embarrass anyone that cares about Los Angeles! Things are not working right over here!

Yeah, let’s find that money somewhere. There are so many places to look. If the ballot measures won’t save us — not even us, but our successors, our children — something else will have to do. Nothing is sacred. There are literal rats running around City Hall. This is urgent. Let’s demand that money.