As a result of our rapidly changing climate, California has
experienced the deadliest, largest, and most destructive
wildfires in its history.
In the past five years, we’ve had nine of the 20 most destructive
fires the state has ever had, including the Camp Fire in Butte in
2018, the Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma in 2017, the Carr Fire in
Shasta & Trinity in 2018, and the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara
and Ventura in 2017.2
Our annual fire season has become a year-round concern. Our fires
are now hotter, larger, and burn longer.
On September 11, Governor Newsom endorsed Prop 15, the
CFT-supported ballot measure that will reclaim $12 billion
annually for California schools and communities by closing
corporate property tax loopholes.
“The governor’s support of Prop 15 is critical to ensure
that this essential initiative passes and our schools have the
resources they need so that our students receive the education
they deserve,” said CFT President Jeff Freitas.
On July 1, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla
announced the 12 measures that have qualified for the November
election, along with their ballot numbers. Schools and
Communities First, the CFT’s top statewide priority in November,
will appear as Proposition 15.
Update: On June 4, Schools and Communities
officially qualified for the November 3 General Election
Last fall, when CFT began circulating petitions to qualify the
Schools and Communities First initiative, seems like a world
away. Yet on April 1, the early days of the coronavirus outbreak,
the coalition submitted 1.7 million signatures, nearly twice the
number needed to put the measure on the November ballot and the
most ever gathered in California history.
In 2011, the CFT worked with community partners to lead the
charge for a Millionaires Tax that eventually turned into Prop 30
and was then extended by Prop 55. Those funds helped stop the
bleeding in K-14 education following the recession and drastic
funding cuts of the mid-2000s.
Now, however, there are pressures throughout our school districts
and community colleges that are preventing CFT members from
getting the pay, benefits, program funding, and staffing levels
our schools, colleges, and communities desperately need.
For more than four decades, California corporations have evaded
their fair share of commercial property taxes, leaving our
schools with some of the most overcrowded classrooms and worst
ratios of students to counselors, librarians, and nurses in the
Schools and Communities First will close those property tax
loopholes in 1978’s Proposition 13 — without affecting homeowners
or renters — and channel more than $12 billion per year to local
schools, community colleges and other vital services.
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony
Thurmond formally endorsed the Schools and Communities First
initiative on January 28 before a crowd of educators, support
staff, parents, and students on the south steps of the State
When CFT received the first batch of petitions to put Schools and
Communities First initiative on the ballot in late October, I
immediately ripped a box open and took out a form. I eagerly
signed the fresh new document to add my name in support of this
Members from classified locals across the state recently met in
Glendale to swap organizing tips, celebrate victories, and
strengthen political skills.
Participants engaged enthusiastically from Friday, October 18,
when Council of Classified Employees President Carl Williams
welcomed leaders to his first President’s Collaboration, to that
Sunday morning, when Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond
rallied the troops for coming electoral fights.
The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act will
restore over $12 billion per year to California’s schools,
community colleges, health clinics, and other vital local
For nearly four decades, big corporations have not been paying
their fair share of commercial property taxes, leaving California
with the most overcrowded classrooms in the United States and
with some of the worst ratios of counselors, librarians, and
nurses per student.
This week, the Schools & Communities First campaign refiled the
the split roll ballot initiative with significant
improvements. The refiling is a result of organizing during
2018 that allowed the campaign to hear feedback from stakeholders
across the state on the ballot measure, and to consult with
California’s leading policy and legal experts. CFT is a key
member of the campaign coalition.