PEN Endorses Measures I and J
The Pasadena Education Network (PEN) is a nonprofit grassroots membership organization with a current membership of just over 1,500. As a membership organization, we are led by a volunteer Board of Directors who are elected by the membership annually.
Each Director takes our responsibility seriously to promote family participation in public education to benefit all students in Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre. We believe that taking stands on appropriate policy matters, and promoting those positions, are important ways to serve our members. We must not only serve our members; we must advocate for our members. We use our voice strategically and thoughtfully.
Among the criteria used by the Board to consider taking an organizational stand are: the issue must be at the local level, it must directly or indirectly affect our members and/or PEN, it must further our mission, it must fit within our core beliefs, and the Board must vote unanimously to take an official stand.
Keeping these criteria in mind, on September 13, 2018, the PEN Board of Directors voted unanimously to endorse Measures I and J.
Measure I raises the sales tax rate in Pasadena by $.0075 (three-quarters of a cent), or 75 cents for every $100 of sales. All proceeds will be spent in Pasadena to maintain vital city services and reinvest in critical city infrastructure. Measure I will not only protect essential city services, but will also guarantee that the additional sales tax revenue will stay in our community. Measure J advises the city to support our public schools as one of those vital city services.
Right now, 7.25% of our sales tax rate is levied by the State, so Pasadena only receives a small share of the revenue generated. Further, only an average of 17% of County-imposed sales taxes collected in Pasadena stay here to support our local services. L.A. County takes the rest. Since the maximum sales tax that any city in California can charge is 10.25%, and our current rate is 9.5%, the county will most likely try to raise taxes like they did last year for the homeless initiatives. If the county does that, without Measure I in place, once again our taxes would be raised and only a small portion of that revenue would stay in our community. However, if we increase the sales tax ourselves to fund the programs and services that our community values most, the county cannot raise our taxes.
Measure J is an advisory measure which only applies if Measure I passes. It tells the Pasadena City Council we value our public schools, our children, and our families, and advises them to use one-third of all the new sales tax revenue from Measure I to protect and strengthen our public schools. The Measure J income will be used to prevent cuts in core academic programs and strengthen classroom instruction.
You are probably aware of the financial challenges that our schools face, and how PUSD has had to implement a Fiscal Sustainability Plan. Although our schools continue to improve and more families may be choosing public, the budget situation has become dire due to shrinking support from the State, rapidly rising costs driven by State and Federal mandates, and fewer school-aged children living in our community. If both Measures I and J pass, PUSD would gain approximately $7 million a year – roughly equal to 3% of PUSD’s annual budget. Think about how much our children would gain with that additional money.
How You Can Help
We encourage you to VOTE YES on MEASURES I and J on November 6. Our schools have made a lot of progress over the past several years, and our children deserve for them to continue to improve. That’s good for our kids, our schools, and our whole community. You can help if you talk to your neighbors, co-workers, and friends about the amazing things that are happening in our schools now, and how their support will make our community better not just today, but for future generations. Tell your story and your school’s story, invite them on a school tour, volunteer to help the campaign, and/or make a donation. Vote to keep our tax dollars local. After all, our children deserve at least 25 cents for every $100 spent in Pasadena…don’t they?
Amelia Chapman, Board Chair
Jennifer Errico, Vice Chair
Lisa Swan, Treasurer
Nury Arrivillaga, Co-Secretary
Deborah Graff, Co-Secretary
Jennifer Allan Goldman