Stand Against Higher Taxes FALSE

Will a no vote on the recall “stop higher property taxes?”

No. The “No on Recall” campaign has falsely claimed that, by voting no, voters can “stop higher property taxes.” The recall does not directly change property taxes. Moreover, only a supermajority of 2/3 of the board could send a bond to the voters, which must be approved by 55% of the voters. Even more perplexing is that Yes on Recall target Rick Ledesma has repeatedly supported higher property taxes as a board member. Moreover, the implication that there is any pending request for “over $1 billion in debt” is not the case.

No on Recall mailer claims that voters can “Stop Higher Property Taxes – Vote No on Recall”

Around February 2, 2024, No on Recall sent out mailers making bold claims that keeping Rick Ledesma and Madison Miner in office would equate to standing against higher property taxes. This article breaks down the claims and implications of the mailer to separate truth from lies.

Does the recall change property taxes?

No. The recall will have no direct impact on property taxes. The recall will decide only whether Rick Ledesma and/or Madison Miner are removed from their office as Trustees of the OUSD Board.

“If a majority of the votes on a recall proposal for a local officer are ‘Yes’, the officer is removed and the office shall be vacant until it is filled according to law.” Elections Code § 11382

Can the Board of Trustees raise property taxes?

No, the Board of Trustees cannot directly increase or decrease property taxes.

While the California Constitution generally limits property taxes to 1% of the taxable value of property, there is an exception for “Bonded indebtedness for the acquisition or improvement of real property approved…by two-thirds of the votes cast by the voters voting on the proposition.” California Constitution Art. 13A, § 1(b)(2).

Education Code § 15266(a) provides that:

[T]he governing board of a school district…may decide, pursuant to a two-thirds vote and subject to Section 15100 to pursue the authorization and issuance of bonds pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution and subdivision (b) of Section 18 of Article XVI of the California Constitution. An election may only be ordered on the question of whether bonds of a school district, community college district, or a school facilities improvement district shall be issued and sold pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 18 of Article XVI of the California Constitution at a primary or general election, a regularly scheduled local election at which all of the electors of the school district, community college district, or school facilities improvement district, as appropriate, are entitled to vote, or a statewide special election.

Thus, the potential for funding under this statute through increased property taxes would occur only after a “two-thirds vote” of the OUSD Board to refer the bond to the voters, who in turn must vote in favor of the bond with 55% support.

Has Rick Ledesma supported or opposed higher property taxes as a board member?

While the No on Recall flier implies that Rick Ledesma has opposed prior property tax increases (bond measures), that is simply a lie. Rather, Rick Ledesma voted to send Measure K in 2014 and Measure S in 2016 to the voters.

Did Rick Ledesma support the Measure S bond issuance in 2016?

On October 13, 2016, Mr. Ledesma voted yes to place the $288 million bond Measure S on the ballot as follows:

Motion No. 27
It was moved by Mrs. Yamasaki, seconded by Mr. Surridge, and carried by a roll vote of 6-0-1 (Absent: Ortega) to adopt Resolution No. 12-16-17 to support the Kindergarten through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016.

No only did Rick Ledesma vote yes to send Measure S to the voters, he also endorsed Yes on Measure S.

On May 26, 2016, Mr. Ledesma made clear his support for the bond that became Measure S as shown in the minutes:

As Board President, Mr. Ledesma believes that the most important item for this District is passage of a bond.…Mr. Ledesma added that we need to be diligent to support the bond and support others who support the bond.

The minutes of the March 10, 2016 meeting show that “Mr. Ledesma is prepared to go forward to put the bond on the ballot in November and will continue to take the necessary steps to meet that goal.” The action item shows that the measure was sent to the voters based on a “second by Rick Ledesma.”

Mr. Ledesma championed Measure S as a board member, voted for sending Measure S to the voters, endorsed Measure S, and spoke as Board President on the importance of “passage of a bond” in relation to Measure S.

Did Rick Ledesma support the failed Measure K bond issuance in 2014?

As to Measure K, the failed $296 million bond, Mr. Ledesma was in full support at the June 30, 2014 meeting, voting in favor of sending the bond measure to the voters.

Not only was Rick Ledesma a supporter of Measure S in 2016, he was also a supporter of Measure K, both of which attempted to raise property taxes through a bond.

OUSD Facts Truth-O-Meeter: False as to Rick Ledesma

The political mailer by No on Recall claimed that a No vote would equate to standing against higher property taxes is beyond misleading.

The implication that Mr. Ledesma has opposed property tax increases in the past is false, undermining the stated prediction that retaining Mr. Ledesma as a Trustee would correlate with standing against property tax increases in the future.

Moreover, the idea that the board controls the property tax rate is false. Rather, the board only serves as gatekeepers of one of the ways that a bond measure can come before the voters for approval by a 55% margin of support by the electorate.

OUSD Facts

Whether or not Madison Miner would support a bond or otherwise vote in favor of higher taxes would be speculation as no such vote has come before the board since she was sworn in to the Board of Trustees in December 2022.

The idea that a No vote on the recall equates to fighting taxes requires a leap of faith and assumed conversion of multiple past supporters of bond measures.