On behalf of California's K-14 students, Educate Our State has submitted a ballot initiative, tentatively titled "The Protection of Local Schools Revenues" to California's Attorney General, which will give equal protection to property taxes in each county allocated to public education. In 2004 Prop 1A, The Protection of Local Government Revenues, which was passed by 83.7% of the voters, protected ALL local property tax revenues except those allocated to public education. Since 2004, the State has been taking public education's share of the property taxes collected in every county and spending it on the state's non-education-related debts. Last year this amounted to $7 Billion per year being taken in property taxes that were allocated to our schools. Though the net effect is revenue neutral, it is literally siphoning off more and more stable revenue (local property taxes) that was destined for the schools of California's poorest children.
In Santa Clara County, a total of $373,188,603 was taken out of school-allocated property taxes to pay State obligations in 2010-2011. $297,132,290 was redirected to satisfy the State's VLF backfill obligation. $76,056,313 was redirected to pay for the State's 2004 Economic Recovery Bonds.
Source: State Controller's Office, Local Government Reporting Section. (City and county detail shown in the reports, totals upon request from the SCO.)
Santa Clara County schools did not receive $104,716,407 of their state funding until after the 2010-11 school year was over. The delayed payments grew to $118,343,573 for the 2011-12 school year, before declining (thanks to Prop 30) to $72,722,394 this past summer.
Source: Funding Excel Files - Second Principal Apportionment from the California Dept. of Education.
Santa Clara is an interesting county analytically as different school districts have dramatically different allocations of property tax . (Most counties are more uniform.) Thus the diagram shown on the Santa Clara Auditor-Controller's website (below) is accurate on average (and does shows the 1-in-10 property tax dollars going to satisfy the state's obligations out of school-allocated revenues). However, reality for any K-12 school district in the county may be quite different.
Gilroy Unified: 53+3% = 56%
Milpitas Unified: 34+3% = 37%
Morgan Hill Unified: 40+3% = 43%
Palo Alto Unified: 45+3% = 48%
San Jose Unified: 45+3% = 48%
Santa Clara Unified: 27+3% = 30%
And those areas that consist of a high-school district plus multiple elementary districts:
Los Gatos-Saratoga: 43+3%=46%
Los Altos-Mtn View: 32+3%=35%
East Side: 41+3%=44%
Many of these districts meet their per-pupil targets from just property tax (so-called basic-aid districts, shown in italics). However, that's bad news for the remaining districts, since the moment they need any state aid, all their local property tax allocation is available to be redirected to meet the state's obligations.
Thus, while only 4% of Santa Clara school districts' overall budget arrived late from the state in 2011-12, the wealthier districts saw less than 1% arrive after the end of the school year, while Alum Rock Union Elementary, East Side Union High, Franklin-McKinley Elementary, Luther Burbank Elementary, and Oak Grove Elementary saw 10% or more paid after the last child had left. Mt. Pleasant Elementary shows 46% arriving in arrears, but that is probably due to some extraordinary circumstance. (Research it, and let us know!)
Taxpayers deserve to know where their local property taxes are going. Children deserve equal protection under the law. Our state constitution says the education of children should be our first priority. Let's begin by providing equal protection to public education.
We have until April 15th to gather signatures and qualify this for the November ballot. Will you give us a few hours of your time? You can sign on at www.YesForEducation.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.