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Thoughts on Rejection of South Pasadena School Tax

June 15, 1989

Congratulations to the South Pasadena school district's financial planning strategy committee and the Proposition A campaign committee for their efforts on behalf of all South Pasadena residents.

As the painful process of budget cutting must resume, we need to understand why a measure so beneficial to our community went down to defeat.

First, there was the eleventh-hour effort of a group ironically calling itself South Pasadenans for Integrity in Government. The group obviously did not lead by example, because it claimed that the district has 21 administrators when the district only has 14, and it made unwarranted attacks on the school board.

In addition, Proposition A opponents mistakenly draped themselves in the mantle of the Proposition 13 taxpayer revolt. But our measure was exactly what Howard Jarvis wanted--people voting to assess themselves for their own benefit.

Then the opponents pointed to California's recently announced $2.5-billion surplus as the way out of our educational financing dilemma. They argued that, under Proposition 98, our fair share would be enough. But do we want to rely on state legislators whose political priorities have placed California in the bottom 4% of states in per-pupil spending?

Despite the obvious benefits to South Pasadena from its public schools--quality education for our children, property values and enhancement of our small-town charm--the defeat of a modest assessment of less than $2 per week per household tells us something about ourselves. We are losing our sense of stewardship for our community as we seek relief for our financial plight elsewhere--from Sacramento, from the lottery, from ever deeper cuts into our public school muscle.

In the past, if more funds were needed, South Pasadena elected officials increased the applicable tax rates. Then, we recognized that we were only entitled to the quality of services for which we were willing to pay.

By defeating Proposition A, we have significantly limited our options. But we can put a revised parcel tax measure on the November ballot and give ourselves a second chance.

ROBERT L. WEAVER

South Pasadena

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