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San Francisco Measure J: Parcel Tax For Schools And Teachers

Jeff Troth
Flickr Creative Commons
An elementary school teacher leads her class.


This is a 2-minute summary of what’s on the ballot. Click here to listen to them all.  

Measure J is a $288 parcel tax designed to raise funds for teacher salaries and school improvements. It would apply to all taxable real estate in the city though there is an exemption for seniors over 65. The Controller’s Office says the measure could generate almost $50 million a year. 

This may feel like dejá vu for San Franciscans. And it should because Measure J is a ‘do-over’ of 2018’s Proposition G. 

Let’s review that one. 

Prop G was supposed to help the San Francisco Unified School District by raising money for educator salaries and schools. Voters approved it with 60 percent of the vote. But opponents challenged it in court, saying the tax should have required a supermajority to pass. The money collected through Prop G has been locked up in a special fund that no one can touch until justice is served. 


Mayor London Breed introduced Measure J to get funding to teachers sooner, instead of waiting on the courts. The new tax would actually be lower, by $32 per parcel. And it requires a supermajority -- at least two-thirds of the vote -- to pass. That would shield Measure J from lawsuits like the one holding up Prop G.

Supporters include the mayor, the school board, and the teachers union. They argue that Measure J simply fixes a legal loophole so that an essential source of funding can actually get to schools and staff. 

The main opponent is the San Francisco Taxpayers Association. It concedes the measure is effectively a tax cut. But, it argues that the tax is fundamentally unfair and regressive because it’s a flat tax that treats all real estate parcels the same. 

So, here’s the bottom line: Vote yes if you want to increase funding for San Francisco Unified schools and salaries for educators sooner rather than later. Vote no if you’d rather wait for the courts to sort out Prop G. 

Precious has lived in and loved the Bay Area since 2012 when she moved from Atlanta, Georgia. Her reporting interests include the politics of race and gender and pop culture as a reflection of our changing cultural landscape. Prior to joining KALW, Precious worked with a variety of community development, social impact and economic equity focused organizations. Before moving to the Bay Area, she practiced law in her hometown.