We have finally arrived at the eve of Election Day, an event that, as everyone knows, will have profoundly important consequences for our nation, state and community. Like many others, I have been urging members of our community to help shape the future by exercising the right and responsibility to vote. It is so encouraging to see voters here and across the country already breaking records by turning out in droves. For San Franciscans who haven’t voted yet, please make a plan today and look up your options as needed at sfelections.sfgov.org.
In a prior column, I mentioned two education-related measures on the ballot: Proposition J, which addresses a legal loophole to continue providing funds to San Francisco Unified School District and Proposition 15, which would increase revenue for public education and other services. I wanted to recap these and two other measures that will impact our schools and students.
This local proposition would amend the San Francisco Charter’s definition of “voter,” for the purpose of municipal elections, to be “any person who is at least 16 years old, meets all the qualifications for voter registration in accordance with state law other than those provisions that address age, and is registered to vote with the Department of Elections.” This would allow many more of our students to vote in local elections in the future.
Mayor London Breed placed Proposition J on the ballot to replace a tax which was passed by San Francisco voters in 2018 with a lower tax. The 2018 tax (which was also called “Prop. G” back then, not to be confused with the youth voting measure on the current ballot), passed with a majority, but not a supermajority, and taxpayers have been paying it ever since. However, a lawsuit challenging the majority voter threshold is keeping the money tied up until the case is resolved.
If Prop. J is passed, funds could be spent starting next year regardless of the legal challenge. The new $288 parcel tax would replace the $320 parcel tax approved in 2018. Funds would mostly be used to pay for raises for teachers and other educators and also help schools invest in technology.
This state proposition would create a “split roll” property tax system and direct the resulting new revenue to public education and other public services. It would amend the state constitution to adjust the original “Prop. 13” from 1978, enabling commercial properties to be taxed at their fair market value, instead of the value at the time when they were purchased.
Prop. 15 would not affect property taxes for homeowners. It would apply only to commercial properties whose owners have more than $3 million in holdings, exempting small businesses and individuals who own their own property. Upon full implementation, this initiative would raise between 8.5 billion and 12 billion dollars each year for education and other public services.
This state proposition would allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary elections and special elections. Like Proposition G on Tuesday’s ballot in San Francisco, this measure would allow voting at a younger age in certain elections.
Thank you for learning about these measures and remember to add your voice through your vote on Election Day!
Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.