Editorial: Californians say ‘yes’ to housing measures. Mostly
California’s housing crisis is a complex human-made, global-scale phenomenon. This is the opinion of a housing researcher who has spent the past 20 years studying the problem, interviewing homeowners, renters, and developers, and analyzing government data to find out where we’re now and where we’re headed.
It’s a complex problem but there are clearly some solutions that make sense and some that don’t. California’s long history of housing policy has shown that state government can get the job done if it looks at housing and housing politics from a broad perspective. This isn’t a problem that can be solved with legislation or an “any man or woman for the job” approach. It requires a comprehensive, coordinated effort.
The current housing debate is important to California policy because one consequence of housing oversupply is that it requires the state to increase tax revenue to fund the public schools. This is, of course, good for the public schools or bad for the public schools. It doesn’t matter which.
State funding for public schools accounts for about 15 percent of California’s state budget. This year’s state budget is projected to leave some $18 billion or so in the coffers of the school districts, which makes up one fifth of the state’s total budget.
The state’s approach to funding public schools depends on two conditions: a) the amount of tax revenue available to support the schools; b) the rate of per pupil cost growth in the local school districts. If one of the conditions is not met, there is less money for the state to fund the schools.
I have been working since 1995 on the “California Public Schools” website. This site is a compendium of articles and research and it provides a window on what I have been doing for the past 20 years. From my site you can learn that:
1) Since the early 1970s the state has increased