Mayor London Breed Announces Ballot Measure to Fund Teacher Salaries
Ballot measure will replace existing parcel tax passed in 2018 that is trapped in litigation
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced a ballot measure for the November 2020 election to fund teacher salaries. The measure will generate approximately $50 million in funding for teachers who work in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). It will replace an existing parcel tax that is trapped in litigation, which has prevented funding for increased salaries from being distributed.
The passage of this parcel tax would significantly solve for anticipated budget shortfalls in future years. If the funding from this measure were available today, it would have helped close SFUSD’s budget gap for Fiscal Year 2021-22 by between 27% to 57% depending on the final outcome of the state budget. This measure would provide critical funding to keep San Francisco teachers paid, providing stability for educators and our students during these unprecedented times. Deeper budget cuts that would occur without this parcel tax would have a devastating impact on student learning and outcomes.
“Everyone is struggling right now under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, including our schools, our students, and our teachers,” said Mayor Breed. “We are currently collecting a tax to support our educators that we can’t spend because of a lawsuit, so it’s time we step up and remove that risk by taking this parcel tax back to the ballot. This is an essential step to help our schools avoid devastating budget cuts and make sure all of our students get the quality education that they deserve.”
In June 2018, voters passed Proposition G with 61% of the vote. Though the measure passed with a simple majority, a lawsuit was filed contending that the measure needed a two-thirds vote to pass. Although the taxes are being collected, the disbursement of funds has been placed on hold by the Controller until that litigation is resolved. The new ballot measure introduced by Mayor Breed today will replace the existing $320 parcel tax with a $288 parcel tax if it passes with a two-thirds vote. The proceeds from the new proposed parcel tax will mirror those of the existing parcel tax.
“Now more than ever we need to honor our public schools and support our educators any way we can,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. “The recent pandemic has proven how essential our educators are, and what better way than to commit to providing critical funds when our education system is facing a dire economic crisis. This has to be one of San Francisco’s top priorities this fall and I am committed 100% to passing this measure.”
“This proposal would reduce taxes for homeowners while allowing the school district and our employees to plan with more certainty,” said SFUSD Board of Education President Mark Sanchez. “This thoughtful and balanced proposal will help San Francisco’s taxpayers, educators, students and families.”
“Creating a stable funding source to maintain salaries for our hard working teachers and staff is critical, especially as they, like so many others, are facing economic anxiety,” said SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. “This measure will also be critical in allowing the district to weather the budgetary crisis that has deepened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The Executive Board of United Educators of San Francisco has voted unanimously in favor of placing the Fair Wages for Educators Act initiative on the November 3, 2020 ballot,” said Susan Solomon, President, United Educators of San Francisco (UESF). “Though Proposition G, the Living Wage for Educators Act, was passed by a wide margin of San Francisco voters in 2018, the as-yet unresolved court challenge to Prop G by anti-fair taxation forces has left our students and their educators with an uncertain and unstable future. Instead of expecting our students to wait for the final legal outcome—in the time of a pandemic, when our kids need more support than ever before—UESF supports an initiative that will not only bring much-needed revenue into our schools, but will do so while decreasing property owners’ taxes. UESF thanks Mayor London N. Breed and is proud to be part of this effort to provide support for the schools all of our students deserve.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly intensified fiscal challenges due to economic shutdown resulting in decreased local and state education revenue. The Governor’s budget has identified a $54 billion state budget shortfall. Under the current proposed May Revised Budget, it is projected that the San Francisco Unified School District will face a $148 million deficit in Fiscal Year 2021-22, which is a 16% reduction from the current budget.
The State Legislature proposes that if no federal stimulus funds are provided, cash payments to school districts statewide would be deferred in order to maintain budgets for school districts for FY 2020-21. Even with the State Legislature’s proposal, SFUSD will need to identify further reductions and budget solutions in order to meet a balanced budget.