Even as state lawmakers debate making it easier for school districts to pass parcel taxes, a new report finds that lowering the passing threshold to 55 percent of the vote would not expand the use of parcel taxes to poorer communities.
The Public Policy Institute of California looked at 17 years of parcel tax data from across California and found that a 55 percent passing threshold would have boosted the success rate for all parcel tax elections from 59 percent to 89 percent. However, the elections garnering at least 55 percent approval were mostly in wealthy and white communities.
"It is hard to say that lowering the vote threshold for parcel tax passage would expand their reach into new areas of the state or to more disadvantaged students,” said Eric McGhee, one of the report’s authors. "This change would likely make it easier for more of the same kind of districts to pass parcel taxes and for districts that already have them to pass more.”
This year, Piedmont voters passed Measure A, replacing the previous school parcel tax with a flat tax of $2,406 per parcel starting July 1, 2013. Voters continued a long tradition of helping to finance Piedmont's public schools through parcel taxes by giving Measure A a 76.99 percent "yes" vote.
In many other communities, parcel taxes have failed to receive the necessary two-thirds approval.
Do you think the required approval rate for school parcel tax should be lowered to 55 percent? You can tell us in the comments.