The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What impact will the Yolo County Taxpayers Association's Endorsement Have on Measure W?

This isn't supposed to happen--Taxpayers Associations do not endorse tax increases. At best you have to hope that they will remain neutral. But there it was last week, we heard rumors that the Yolo County Taxpayers Association had endorsed Measure W, the Davis Joint Unified School District's parcel tax needed to offset severe cutbacks from the state.

Those rumors have been confirmed now with an article yesterday in the Davis Enterprise and a subsequent letter by John Munn, former school board member, former Republican nominee for State Assembly, and current president of the Taxpayers Association.

John Munn writes:
"The Yolo County Taxpayers Association board of directors has voted to support Measure W, the proposed parcel tax to maintain school programs in Davis...

Although the association is not pleased by spending decisions that have contributed to the school district's current financial situation, the need for Measure W is real, and opposition at this point would not be in the best interest of the community, where taxpayers have a clear interest in the education of Davis students...

This support, however, comes with a caveat. We expect that the school district and board members now understand how decisions about present spending can lead to future deficits. Therefore, the association will not support future tax measures to pay for deficits created by subsequent board decisions. But this is for another day's debate. Today, we must work together to keep the good things we have, which requires passing Measure W."
Board member Gina Daleiden told the Enterprise in response to Mr. Munn's letter:
"As we are all aware, this year's state budget crisis has resulted in dismal funding for schools across California, and Measure W is needed for local support to save our quality educational programs that state dollars fail to adequately fund...

The district has worked hard to incorporate a high degree of accountability and transparency in Measure W, so that everyone can see it's a wise investment in our community, our kids and our future...

We welcome the support of the Taxpayers Association and their president, former school board member John Munn. We agree we must all work together to pass Measure W."
The question now is how much such an endorsement means. That is a key a question because such an endorsement provides a good deal of cover for the school district who has argued, with good reason, that they have worked hard to put their financial house in order and that this money is absolutely necessary for the district to continue to function at a high level.

The concern that has been emerging has been that this campaign has been low-key. The supporters of Measure W need to sell the need for another parcel tax to the public--some of whom are undoubtedly skeptical. To date that has yet to have occurred and it is desperately needed. It is already the last week in September. The election is less than fifty days away.

There is no doubt that this is a shot in the arm for the campaign. It helps make the case from an unlikely source about the necessity of the funds, but it will only go as far as the backers of this measure are able to get the word out to the public. Something is needed soon to raise the profile of this campaign and sell the message to the public. There is still time to do that, but time is quickly becoming an issue.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting