Measure EE went down in a surprisingly wide defeat on Tuesday, June 4th. The measure which would have levied a 16 cent per square foot property tax on all residential and commercial properties in the LAUSD District needed a 2/3 super majority to pass. Instead, it failed to gain even a simple majority, attracting approximately 45% of the vote in a low turnout election.
This was a major blow for Measure EE’s proponents, who gambled that support for the LA teacher’s strike earlier in the year would transfer into LA County voters being willing to do what was previously thought unthinkable, to vote in large numbers to raise property taxes on virtually every residential and commercial structure in the district.
Proponents pointed to the need for increased school funding and were optimistic that Californians had shook off their previous antipathy to property tax increases in the last few years in passing various tax increases in ballot measures. Instead, reverting to prior form, voters rejected a parcel tax increase.
Given that it was always going to be a steep climb to reach a 2/3 super majority, proponents of Measure EE had previously intimated they would consider trying again if the measure went down, likely during a general election 2020 where turnout would be higher. That said, the result may cause proponents of Measure EE to reconsider.
Some Measure EE supporters claimed that internal polling showed that Measure EE was polling at over 60%, and thus within striking distance of passage. Given that it failed to even win a simple majority, it appears that advocates have a lot of work in front of them if they wish to pass something in 2020.
However, it is possible that a ballot initiative that is clearer on where the funding goes toward (such as a legal mandate that the funding be spent only on students or facilities improvements) may have a better chance of passage compared with Measure EE which was criticized for failing to guarantee that the funds would go directly towards school and student improvements. Indeed, opponents made much of that issue. While this bears watching, the status quo with regards to property taxes in LA County prevails for now.