A Case for Yes on Prop 15

By Daren A. Miller

The times have really changed since 1978. Well, for most of us they have. I was a 12-year-old, exiting elementary school, headed for middle school. My previous summers had been filled with a plethora of activities sponsored through the city of Fresno Parks and Recreation Department. Many of these activities were my first experiences. Moreover, I was blessed because my father was a city of Fresno Parks and Recreation supervisor in charge of all the playgrounds located in southwest Fresno.

Prior to the summer of 1978, the youth of southwest Fresno could count on going to Dallas Cowboys training camp in Thousand Oaks and San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s baseball games, Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and many other regional locations.

Local events included swim lessons, tennis, Little League baseball, Pop Warner football, and numerous arts and crafts activities. Many of the local activities were joint projects between the city of Fresno and the Fresno Unified School District.

Attending summer school was a big deal until the summer of 1978. All students had the opportunity to attend. It was an opportunity for children to fill learning voids and occupy their time with educational activities.

Summer school was not only for the remediation of failing students, it was also an opportunity for students on and above grade-level to enrich their education. Summer school also presented the opportunity for newer teachers to build their instructional skills and new administrators to enhance their leadership abilities.

After 1978, young people were no longer able to participate in Summer Youth Employment programs. Summer Youth Employment was a huge benefit to the involved youth, their families, local municipalities and nonprofit organizations. Students were able to learn job skills and make some money to support the family, and businesses were able to employ young people at reduced rates of pay to fill their summer employment needs.

The passage of Prop 13 in 1978 eliminated most of these activities. Prop 13 was sold to the public as a way to lower property taxes for citizens. The lasting effects of its passage has negatively affected education and community development since its enactment. A “Yes” vote on Prop 15 in November will restore much needed funding to schools and municipalities throughout California.

The passage of Prop 15, which will be on the November 2020 ballot, will raise approximately $11 billion annually. The specific language says the fiscal impact of passing Prop 15 will “raise property taxes on commercial properties worth more than $3 million providing $6.5 [billion] to $11.5 billion in new funding to local governments and schools.”

In effect, corporations such as Disney, Magic Mountain, Budweiser and many others will be obligated to pay property taxes at current assessment levels and not at the rates established back in 1978. Agriculture throughout the state will be exempted for property tax increases associated with the passage of Prop 15.

Estimates from the California Teachers Association (CTA) project that local school districts, including community colleges, will receive the following: Fresno Unified School District, $51.6 million; Clovis Unified School District, $25.6 million; Central Unified School District, $10.6 million; Sanger Unified School District, $7.5 million; Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, $1.4 million; State Center Community College District, $14.7 million; and West Hills Community College District, $3.0 million.

Although information is not readily available for the money to be received by the city of Fresno, by statute, municipalities will receive 60% of generated monies. Sixty percent would garner more than $50 million annually.

The passage of Prop 15 will help offset the devastating financial effects of the coronavirus on education and municipalities. The passage of Prop 15 will constitute a great start toward that recovery.

Vote “yes” on Prop 15 for the November 2020 General Election.

*****

Daren A. Miller, Ed.D., is an elected trustee on the Fresno County Board of Education serving Trustee Area 3. He has spent the past 30 years working at numerous K-12 and community college campuses in the Fresno area as a teacher, counselor, administrator and adjunct professor.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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