Supervisor Laura Capps | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

The Santa Barbara Unified school board on Tuesday adopted a resolution supporting and endorsing Proposition 15, which would raise new revenue for schools by changing the way most commercial and industrial property taxes are levied. 

Otherwise known as the Schools and Local Communities Funding Act, Prop. 15 would raise the money by lifting the 2 percent annual cap on property tax increases for commercial properties, but not residential. Prop. 15 is estimated to generate $8.5 billion-$12 billion annually, 60 percent of which would go to local governments and 40 percent would go to K-14 schools.

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“I’m here in support of Proposition 15,” said Yesenia Ramirez, a Dos Pueblos alumna who graduated last year. “I know that this district can really use the money, especially in meeting demands of ethnic studies. They need a department to organize and collaborate.”

Nobody spoke against Prop. 15, but a handful of speakers spoke in support of the resolution. But there was a bit of a communication error. Most of them said that Santa Barbara Unified would receive $8.4 million if Prop. 15 passed, but that turned out to be incorrect.

On September 8, the board brought forward a report that said Santa Barbara Unified would receive $8.4 million. However, that amount was calculated as if the district were a Local Control Funding Formula district, but it is actually a basic aid district. Because of this, the district will actually receive about $100 per average daily attendance, or $1.3 million annually.

“Special interests have a lot of power when it comes to the way our laws are written,” Board President Laura Capps said. “The first way special interests get their way is to kind of mess with the tax code and see if there’s loopholes. So whenever I see a potential for closing a loophole like this one, I think it’s a good idea and it helps our schools.” 

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