San Francisco Has an Extra $181 Million to Spend. Where Should It Go?


San Francisco ERAF surplus

San Francisco is getting a $181 million refund from the state of California, and, as you can imagine, there’s a big debate about how to allocate the money.

The money comes from the “Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, or ERAF, a state program that shifts a portion of local property taxes to public school systems in each county. When county auditors determine that there is enough money to meet the minimum state requirements for its public schools and community colleges, the remaining funds are returned to the local governments.” 

This is the first time San Francisco has seen a refund, and it’s related to the insanely high housing prices in the area. Each time a home sells, its property tax base resets to match the new, significantly higher sale price. Over time, this has created an unspent surplus that’s now being returned to the city and county of San Francisco.

Only 8% of the money is mandated to go to San Francisco public schools, so the Board of Supervisors held a hearing on January 29 to review a budget proposal for the money. The SF Examiner reported on the proposal and the points of contention from the meeting. In short, educators and their supporters are lobbying for $60 million of the windfall to be allocated back to the schools compared to the $13.5 million that is currently proposed. But in a city with lots of big problems — homelessness, affordable housing, and childcare, to name a few — the debate on how to split the pie is heated. 

The supervisors will formally discuss the proposal at next week’s Budget and Finance Committee hearing which is scheduled for Wednesday, February 6. Let your supervisors know how you want the money to be allocated. (Use this tool to find your supervisor)

You can find their email addresses and office phone numbers on the Board of Supervisors website and here are their Twitter handles: @SandraLeeFewer @SupStefani @AaronPeskin  @NormanYeeSF @HillaryRonen @Ahsha_Safai|  @RafaelMandelman @MattHaneySF @VallieBrown @GordonMar @shamannwalton.  Mayor Breed’s handle is @LondonBreed and you can also tweet @sfgov. 



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