Local officials are forever blaming state politicians for pilfering their tax money, dictating what they can and cannot do and generally making their lives miserable.
Instead of whining, Davis school board member Richard Harris proposed a truly smart idea and got other board members to embrace it.
By placing Measure E on the Nov. 6 ballot, they hope to create a safety net for their schools, to be funded by Davis residents. If other officials thought in similar terms, schools would be in far better shape.
For the next three weeks, school board members across California will be warning about drastic cuts to public schools that will come about if voters reject Proposition 30, the initiative that Gov. Jerry Brown is promoting to raise $6 billion a year in taxes.
Brown and Democratic leaders have said that if Proposition 30 fails and its support seems to be slipping they will slash more than $5 billion from public schools. Local school boards probably will react by laying off teachers and cutting short the school year.
But Harris, who by day is a Capitol lobbyist, promoted Measure E to extend Davis schools' existing parcel tax of $204. The measure would impose an additional $242 parcel tax on Davis residents, but only if voters statewide reject Proposition 30.
The $242 parcel tax would produce $3.7 million, the amount that Davis schools stand to lose if Proposition 30 fails. We'd prefer that voters approve Proposition 30. But Harris doesn't want Davis schools to suffer because of the whims of voters in the rest of the state.
Voters in Davis see the value of public schools and regularly support extra taxes. There is a broader lesson for the rest of the state. If the lawmakers in the Capitol won't come through, voters and local officials should take matters into their own hands.
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