Los Angeles Collegian Online

Voters Say No to Proposition 15

LOUIS WHITE's DEMOCRACY
Photographed by Louis White// A volunteer sits at a welcome table at the vote center in front of the L.A. City College Student Union on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020. COVID-19 protocol supplies like hand sanitizer fill the table.
BY CASHIA KIRKSEY

Voters defeated a ballot measure in November that would have delivered millions of funding dollars to the Los Angeles Community College District. Billions of dollars were at stake for community colleges, K-12 schools, and local communities in California.

A little more than half of California voters (52%; 8,757,120) rejected Proposition 15, while 48% (8,082,115) of voters favored it, which resulted in the proposition’s failure. Proposition 15 would have provided the Los Angeles Community College District with an estimated $48,585,486 in funding, according to the California Teachers Association’s estimated funding calculator.

Without proper funding, it is difficult to ensure students will get an equitable and quality education. The California Federation of Teachers published an article on their website entitled “Yes on 15! Fix commercial tax system to help fund schools and colleges,” on Sept. 24.

CFT leadership believes voting yes on Proposition 15 would have been the solution to fixing California’s school funding challenges.

“Today California ranks near the bottom in spending per pupil and staffing ratios for teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and administrators,” according to the article. California schools need an increase in funding and could have benefited from the passage of Proposition 15.

“The California Schools & Local Communities Funding Act would raise up to an estimated $12 billion every year for schools and local communities by ending the unfair system that allows a fraction of the wealthiest commercial and industrial property owners to avoid paying their fair share in taxes,” according to the CFT article.

Proposition 15 has its pros and cons. The failure of Proposition 15 means no additional tax increase on commercial and industrial properties. If the proposition had been successful, it would have changed how California property is taxed, but also provided schools an opportunity to receive needed funding for educational resources. 

The LACCD’s Board of Trustees President Andra Hoffman supported Proposition 15. In an email to the Collegian, Hoffman stated Proposition 15 would have had a significant impact if it had passed. The money collected from those taxes would have gone directly to schools and communities.

“It would charge a higher rate for large commercial businesses and commercial properties,” Hoffman said.

She noted that property owners feel uneasy about the proposition and feared their residential taxes would have gone up.

“I think it’s property assessed at more than $3 million,” Hoffman said. “But not houses, not personal private residences. Just commercial property.” 

About 40% of that would go to community colleges or community-based organizations, according to Hoffman.

“We actually really need it now, post COVID, it’s kind of critical,” she said.

It is not yet clear how the gap in funding will be filled, but something will have to be done to ensure the students of LACC along with other community colleges and K-12 schools in California have the funding needed to provide quality education. 

Some voters say the details and presentation of Proposition 15 and 16 seemed confusing and could have possibly discouraged voters’ support. Ronisha Doucette who is a 2020 paralegal graduate from City College says the language and wording used to represent Proposition 15 was not understandable to the average voter. 

“The 2020 election ballot included proposition measures 15 and 16 that presented to voters a proposed selection in our interest,” Doucette said. “However, the language as usual was not comprehensive to a lay person, which means that the majority of uneducated inner-city voters would be confused and possibly make the wrong selection, opposite of his or her intentions.”

Doucette says the wording used to describe the measures was ambiguous by design.

“It is my belief that they constructed these measures purposely to confuse the uniformed voters,” she said. “So, it will only suit their benefit or interest and not for the benefit of the oppressed Black and Brown communities.”

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