by Jon Coupal | Sacramento

In a state hard hit by recession, the Los Angeles area is even worse off  than most.  Its abysmal unemployment rate is over 13%.  No one around  here says they have enough money, except the divorcing owners of the  Dodgers, Frank and Jamie McCourt, and each says that about the other,  not about themselves.

So perhaps it should not come as a surprise that the Los Angeles Unified  School District is once again approaching voters with strains of sad violin music in the background and tin cup in hand.  This might elicit  pity if the District had not already hit up taxpayers for five bond  measures over thirteen years to pay for a mammoth $20 billion building  program that has proceeded even though school enrollment has been  declining for nearly a decade.  Many Los Angeles homeowners are paying  hundreds upon hundreds of dollars each year for new classrooms for  which, in the end, there may be no students.

Now, the LAUSD bureaucracy says their situation is so dire that if they  do not receive a taxpayer-funded cash bailout in the form of another  increase in property taxes, they may be forced to lay off teachers.  It  is obvious why they threaten teachers.  If they threatened to lay off  part of the massive LAUSD bureaucracy, voters would not only vote “no”  on the Measure E tax increase, they would vote “Hell no!”

The president of United Teachers of Los Angeles, A.J. Duffy, got it  right when he told the Daily News last year, “This district has  lived high on its hog for 10 to 12 years, while continuing to raise  administrative and supervisory personnel even while student populations  were going down,” Duffy said. “Now it’s coming back to harm them.”

For some, a teachers union president — in the state that has the second  highest paid educators in the nation — may lack credibility on fiscal  issues.  But it cannot be denied that in a dispute over resources, the  teachers hold the moral high ground.  It is they on whom we depend to  instruct our children, not the cubicle workers in the headquarters  buildings.

So in a school district that has a budget larger than many states, where  does the money go?  While pleading poverty, the District would have the  public believe that it spends about $10,000 per child, but before  anyone is tempted to approve another tax for Los Angeles Schools, or any  other school district for that matter, they would do well to examine  the newly released study by the Cato Institute (  The  report titled, “They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public School,” shows  the actual amount spent by the LAUSD is over $25,000 per pupil!

Why the huge difference between what we hear and what the District  actually spends?  It’s because, like many school districts, the LAUSD  excludes whole categories of expenditures that are necessary for schools  to function, such as capital costs, debt service, and employee  benefits.

It’s clear; taxpayers are already extremely generous, especially  considering how much most are struggling.  Voters would be wise to tell  the District bureaucrats to shape up and do a better job of managing the  billions of dollars they are already provided, at great sacrifice, by  taxpayers. CRO

copyright 2010 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Jon Coupal is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest taxpayer organization with offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

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