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Measure E is a Regressive Tax

Dear Editor,

Measure E is a regressive tax, which means it taxes big rich houses and small poor homes exactly the same amount. Measure E doubles our current school property tax.

When I authored a property tax law in Berkeley two years after Prop 13 passed, the Library Relief Act of 1980, I wrote a progressive tax where people were taxed by the square footage of their homes. Owners of large homes, therefore, paid more than owners of small homes. The voters of Berkeley thought that was fair and passed it by 69%. Supporters of Measure E claim that Alamedans would not understand such a tax because they could not figure out how much they would pay. I do not believe citizens of Berkeley in 1980 were smarter than citizens of Alameda are today. In 1980 there was no internet so people had to figure out for themselves what their own tax would be. Today, the school district could post every single home on-line, it is already public information, so everyone could look up what they would pay.

I have never opposed a local tax measure before in 40 year of voting. However, I believe Measure E should be called Measure W after George W. Bush because giving middle income and poor people a larger percentage of the tax burden was what he espoused. I voted No on E and suggest you do likewise.

— Leland Traiman, Alameda

8 comments to Measure E is a Regressive Tax

  • Andy Currid

    You’ve never opposed a local tax before in 40 years of voting. Why didn’t you oppose Alameda’s Measure A in 2001, which taxed all homes at $109 regardless of size, Measure A in 2005, which raised the tax to $189 for all homes regardless of size, and Measure H in 2008, which instituted an additional tax of $120 per home regardless of size?

  • Andy,

    Mr. Tremain has written previously that he believes that the split roll tax will ultimately found to be illegal by an appellate court and overturned. (See Alameda sun, letters to the editor, 4/22/10

    Measure E proponents like to downplay that risk, but it’s a very serious gamble that the Board of Trustees and Superintendent are taking with the schools finances. And to do it twice in a row, within two years, when the plaintiffs have indicated that they wouldn’t oppose a different sort of tax structure.

    The regressive nature of this parcel tax is compounded by its duration (until 2018) and its amplitude ($659/year – more than twice what people currently pay.)

  • propubliceducation

    Thank you Leland & Action Alameda for continuing to inform and advocate for the poor and underserved and a tax that’s clearly legal and won’t continue litigation on taxpayer dollars. Others, like Andy, an Edison parent, will continue to advocate that all in Alameda, whether their children attend Edison (389 students, 71% white, 10% free/reduced lunch, 9% English Language Learners, scores 10 out of 10) or Ruby Bridges (521 students, Title 1, 17% white, 67% free/reduced lunch, 35% English Language Learners) and whether they live in a $120,000 1-bedroom 510 sq. ft. condo on Webster, monthly payment of $600 or a $965,000 3-bedroom 2,300 sq. ft. Fernside home, monthly payment of $5,000 pay the same tax of $659/year. Vote No on E.

  • I am also “Pro Public Education,” but not without serious reforms, such as teacher evaluation, and hiring, as well as salary and “seniority” based on student test scores and intensive interviews of all teachers, as well as observation of their classroom discipline and demeanor.

    I’ve spent 14 years in the classroom, and LOVED my students, but also wanted them to make the very most of every minute we spent together in class. Too many unionized teachers, with tenure and seniority, don’t have that dedication. They coast, they glide, they sleepwalk, they phone it in, and they ruin their students’ lives.


  • LARoth

    Measure E Smeasure E
    The thing that is killing CA schools is Prop 13. I pay 8 times the property tax that my neighbor with the same condo floor plan pays. Big businesses use a loophole so property taxes stay the same even when bought and sold. My daughter will likely never be able to buy a home in California. Voting Yes on Measure E passes even more tax along to those already over burdened with property tax. If you want more money for schools revise the insane Prison Guard Union/Prison Industry funding and get rid of three strikes. Good grief.

  • I agree with much of what LaRoth says, and we all have an excellent opportunity to empty our prisons, especially of the poor and disadvantaged, by legalizing all marijuana for only at home recreational use. No driving home from the bar!

    But I disagree about Prop. 13 being the source of all our woes. Perhaps commercial property taxes should be based on current evaluations, but not residential, since so much of the inflation in housing has been one big bubble filled with methane gas! People who bought after about 1990, just before the last collapse in prices, (notice I didn’t say “Values”), paid too much and are being penalized for their gullibility.

    I got out of the home buying market many years ago, seeing what a scam it is. Only 45% of voters own their own homes, but Measure E will also penalize renters for the first time, and many commercial property owners will be paying $791/month, which will drive many small biz owners off-island. There go their taxes, and there go the schools!


  • The County tax assessor is reviewing and potentially re-assessing all properties in the county with a sale date during the bubble:

    The County’s revenue has declined for the first time in 50 years, due to declining property taxes and declining sales tax revenue:

    See the breakdown, by lien date of Alameda County properties – a substantial portion, measured by count or value, have an assessed value within the past 20 years:

    Schools are funded first with local property taxes, and the balance of the revenue limit is “topped up” with State money:

    Note that property taxes in California, before and after Prop 13, are ad valorem taxes, meaning they are tied to the value of the property. While ad valorem taxes are progressive in the sense that people with greater wealth, as proxied by property values, pay more, they are disconnected from the consumption of the services that the tax revenue is used to fund. i.e. taxes paid do not necessarily correspond with public services used.

  • Gordon

    Re LAroth’s comment …. yes lets get rid of Prop 13 … so our useless Liberal led CA Legislature and the even more useless AUSD, has more of ours money to waste.

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