City of San Francisco "Children and Families First" City Funds, Tax and Administration Proposal, Proposition C (November 2014)
|Voting on Education|
|Not on ballot|
If approved, Proposition C approves the extension of the city's Children's Fund and Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) for the next quarter century. The Children's Fund would be extended for 25 years and the Public Education Enrichment Fund would remain in operation for the next 26 years. The measure would also establish a new council to create a plan for the city to improve the condition of children and families, assessing city policies and programs and making general recommendations every five years. The final provision of the measure would divide the city's general Rainy Day Reserve into a City Rainy Day Reserve and a School Rainy Day Reserve.
Much of the money from the two funds renewed by this measure goes towards supporting public schools and public school programs. According to Supervisor Norman Yee, a backer of the "Children and Families First" measure, there are an estimated 109,000 children in San Francisco, with only about 56,000 enrolled in a public school.
The Children's Fund was established in 1991 and was set to expire on June 30, 2016. The fund receives revenue from the city's property tax. From 1991 through 2016, the fund was designed to receive revenue at a rate of $0.03 per $100 of assessed property value. City property owners paid a total of $1.1691 per $100 of assessed property value in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which means 2.57 percent of the city's property tax went to the Children's Fund. If this measure is approved, the Children's Fund would be extended for 25 years until June 30, 2041. Moreover, the measure would increase the portion of the city property tax that goes to the Children's Fund to $0.04 per $100 of assessed valuation. The increased revenue would be used to provide additional services for children under 18, including childcare, healthcare, job training, social services, out-of-school programs, recreational and cultural programs and delinquency prevention services. The fund would also provide services to youths that fall into the "transitional age" of between 18 and 24, including help for the homeless, high-school drop-outs, the disabled or those leaving the foster care or juvenile justice system. The fund would be overseen by an 11-member administrative committee.
The Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) was created in 2004 and is provided for through annual contributions from the city's budget. The 2013 city contribution to PEEF was $77.1 million. PEEF money is split three ways, with a third going to the San Francisco Unified School District's art, music, sports and library programs, a third going to the First Five Commission, which runs pre-school programs, and a third earmarked for the school district's general education fund. The fund was set to expire on June 30, 2015. This measure would renew the program for 26 years. Moreover, the measure would eliminate a provision that allowed the city to defer up to a quarter of the set contributions to PEEF in any year the city had a budget shortfall of $100 million or more.
Rainy Day Reserve
Under city code, if the city collects revenue that exceeds the revenue of the previous year by 5 percent or more, it is required to put half of the revenue in excess of the 5 percent increase into the city's Rainy Day Reserve fund. The city is not allowed to draw from the Rainy Day Reserve unless it collects less money than it did in the preceding year, except when the San Francisco Unified School District collects less money per student than in previous years, in which case the city can give up to a quarter of the reserve fund money to the school district. This proposal would further separate the city's reserve and the school district finances. Under the proposal, the same Rainy Day Reserve funding would be automatically divided into a City Rainy Day Reserve and a School Rainy Day Reserve, with three quarters going to the city and one quarter going to the school.
This proposal would also establish a new council to create a plan for the city to improve the condition of children and families, assessing city policies and programs and making general recommendations every five years.
Text of measure
The Ballot Simplification Committee provided the following statement explaining Proposition C:
THE WAY IT IS NOW:' The City funds services for children, youth, and their families through various ways, including the Children’s Fund, Public Education Enrichment Fund, and Rainy Day Reserve.
In 1991, San Francisco voters created the Children’s Fund, which receives a dedicated portion of the property tax that the City collects each year. The current amount of the set-aside is 3 cents for each $100 of assessed property value. The City uses the Children’s Fund to provide services for children under 18 years of age. These services include child care, health services, job training, social services, educational, recreational and cultural programs, and delinquency prevention services. For fiscal year 2013-14, the City will deposit approximately $49 million into the Children’s Fund.
The Children’s Fund will expire on June 30, 2016.
Public Education Enrichment Fund
In 2004, San Francisco voters created a Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF). The City Charter requires the City to contribute a certain amount to PEEF each year, based on the City’s General Fund revenues. For fiscal year 2013-14, that amount was $77.1 million.
The Charter requires the City to distribute money each year from PEEF as follows:
PEEF will expire on June 30, 2015.
Rainy Day Reserve The City has a Rainy Day Reserve (Reserve). When the City’s collections increase by more than 5% over the year before, the City deposits half of the amount over 5% in the Reserve.
The City may take money out of the Reserve only when:
Proposition C is a Charter Amendment that would change the way the City funds and administers services to children, youth, and their families.
Proposition C would extend the Children’s Fund and the property tax set-aside for 25 years, until June 30, 2041. Proposition C would increase the property tax set-aside gradually over the next four years to 4 cents for each $100 of assessed property value. The proposal would not increase or otherwise change property taxes; it would only affect the amount of property tax revenues set aside for the Fund.
Proposition C would also extend the age group served by the Children’s Fund to include youth aged 18 through 24 years old.
Public Education Enrichment Fund
Proposition C would extend PEEF for 26 years, until June 30, 2041.
Proposition C would extend funding for universal preschool to include 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, but would still give priority to 4-year-olds. The City could also use these funds to develop services for children from birth to 3 years old.
Our Children, Our Families Council
Proposition C would create an Our Children, Our Families Council (Council) to advise the City and School District on the needs of children and families in San Francisco and on priorities, goals, and best practices for addressing those needs.
Every five years, the Council would adopt an Our Children, Our Families Plan to recommend new City policies and programs for children and families in San Francisco. The purpose of the Plan is to create a more coordinated and efficient system of services.
Rainy Day Reserve
Proposition C would divide the existing Rainy Day Reserve into a City Rainy Day Reserve (City Reserve) and a School Rainy Day Reserve (School Reserve).
Under the proposal, 25% of future Rainy Day deposits would go to the School Reserve and 75% would go to the City Reserve.
Under Proposition C, the School District could withdraw up to half the money in the School Reserve in years when it expects to collect less money per student than in the previous fiscal year and would have to lay off a significant number of employees. The School Board could, by a two-thirds’ vote, override those limits and withdraw any amount in the School Reserve in any year.
A “YES” VOTE MEANS: If you vote "yes," you want the City to amend the Charter to support services to children, youth, and their families by:
A “NO” VOTE MEANS: If you vote “no,” you do not want the City to reauthorize the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund or to make these changes to the Charter.
—San Francisco Ballot Simplification Committee
The full text of the ordinance that would be enacted by the approval of Proposition C is available here.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and all eleven city supervisors have expressed approval of this measure.
Arguments in favor
Pointing out that only about 56,000 of the city's estimated 109,000 children are enrolled in public schools, Supervisor Norman Yee said, "The city must do better for our children and families."
Mayor Lee said that the programs renewed by the measure would invest money into one of the best school districts in the nation. At the same time, he encouraged families to send their children to public schools, rather than paying for them to attend private school. Lee said, "We are making sure all families that deserve our support get it."
Speaking of the city's education funds, PEEF in particular, Supervisor Jane Kim said, "This money truly makes a difference. Those dollars work to extend the support of our children." Kim also pointed out that, from 2009 to 2014, the state had cut $77 million from San Francisco School District funding. Kim stated, "If the state and federal government will not take responsibility for our children and families, the city and county of San Francisco will."
As of July 11, 2014, no organized opposition to the measure had come forward. If you have an argument in opposition you would like to see posted here, please email the Local Ballot Measures Project staff writer.
Path to the ballot
- San Francisco City and County, California ballot measures
- November 4, 2014 ballot measures in California
- San Francisco Unified School District, California
- San Francisco Unified School District elections (2014)
- San Francisco Unified School District employee salaries
- Local property tax on the ballot
- San Francisco Appeal, "Initiative To Increase Funding For SF Public Schools Added To November Ballot," July 8, 2014
- San Francisco Elections Office website, "Proposition C Simplification Digest," archived September 9, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.