SFUSD Raises Needn’t Crush SF’s Middle Class

Unlike many other Bay Area school districts, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) chooses to unnecessarily subsidize expensive health insurance for retirees who are eligible for Medicare or Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) benefits. Last year those subsidies — known as Other Post-Employment Benefits, or “OPEB” — cost SFUSD $32 million. Terminating them could provide SFUSD’s active teachers with a big raise:

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But rather than pressure SFUSD’s board to terminate the subsidies, earlier this year some rich individuals decided to pressure San Francisco’s middle class instead by placing a new parcel tax measure on San Francisco ballots. Selling the measure as necessary to raise teacher salaries but not disclosing the diversion of money to unnecessary subsidies or that SFUSD’s revenues had doubled in the previous five years, the measure passed with the result that a new regressive financial burden has been imposed on city dwellers and pressure has been lifted on SFUSD’s board to reform the real cause of depressed wages for current teachers — retirement spending of $100 million per year and climbing.

SFUSD should eliminate health insurance subsidies for retirees eligible for Medicare or Obamacare subsidies, use the savings to give raises to teachers, and put a measure on the next ballot to eliminate the new parcel tax. SFUSD’s revenues doubled in the last five years to $220,000 per teacher. Surely SFUSD’s board can figure out how to get more of that money to teachers without asking for more money from San Francisco’s shrinking middle class.

Lecturer at Stanford University and president of Govern For California

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