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PACE

The Canary in the Gold Mine: The Implications of Marin’s Rising Pension Costs

Dan Walters at CalMatters recently wrote,

"California’s local governments — cities especially — and school districts have been packing ballots with tax increase measures in recent years and another batch is on tap for next year.

"Voters have, more often than not, bought into officials’ pleas for more revenue and promises to spend it on popular services and facilities. However, there is some evidence that voters are tiring of being constantly asked for more tax money."

In his comments, he references a study by Public Analysis for Public Education (PACE), entitled "The Canary in the Gold Mine," published in November of 2019. Below, is the Executive Summary of the Report, provided by PACE, quoted in its entirety.

The full Report by authors Hannah Melnicoe, Cory Koedel, Arun Ramanathan, and the Report's "Infographic" are attached below.


Voters in Marin County have long been willing to pass parcel taxes to fund their schools. In 2016, taxes faced unprecedented opposition from local activists; taxes in Kentfield and Mill Valley were defeated or passed by previously unheard-of narrow margins, respectively.

What changed? This case study uses district financial and demographic data as well as interviews and focus groups with advocates and education leaders to answer this question. It was clear that:

This case study also offers lessons for local and state education leaders, including: