Jack O’Connell, the state superintendent of public instruction (pictured far right), and Vince Matthews, Oakland’s state administrator, have called for a change in election law that would allow school parcel tax measures — like construction bonds — to pass with 55 percent of the vote, rather than 67 percent.
Measure N, the failed parcel tax for Oakland teachers, netted about 61 percent approval.
The below letter by O’Connell and Matthews was published in the Tribune today. Would you support the kind of change they’re proposing?
Thanks for N support
WE’D LIKE TO thank the majority of Oakland voters who supported Measure N to increase teacher’ salaries and improve programs in the Oakland Unified School District.
That in these difficult financial times 61 percent of voters were willing to support their schools by supporting a parcel tax to raise $12 million is testament to the value placed on public education by the vast majority of Oakland residents.
The vote also supports our belief that the voter threshold for passage of school parcel taxes should be reduced to a 55 percent majority. Three of the four parcel tax proposals that were not successful on local ballots in California on Election Day — including Oakland’s — won the support of an overwhelming majority of the voters, but failed to meet the two-thirds approval requirement.
Eight years ago, California voters wisely agreed to lower the required vote threshold for school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent. As a result, 77 general obligation bond issues were passed on Election Day, raising $21 billion to improve school facilities.
It is a shame that because of the two-thirds vote requirement, Oakland teachers and schools won’t also benefit from new revenues in a time of threatened cuts to our public schools.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Vincent Matthews, State Administrator, Oakland Unified School District