Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
Get the facts before you vote.
Brought to you by
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
California State Library@CAStateLibrary
November 6, 2018 — California General Election
Invest in unbiased information

With your support, we can reach and inform more voters.

Donate now to spread the word.


City of Pasadena
Measure J -

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


36,179 votes yes (72.05%)

14,036 votes no (27.95%)

100% of precincts reporting (59/59).

If Pasadena voters approve a local sales tax measure, should the City use 2/3rds of the measure's annual revenue to maintain essential City of Pasadena services such as fire, police, paramedics, emergency service/response times; keep fire stations open; improve neighborhood and school safety; repair streets/sidewalks; address homelessness; maintain after-school programs/senior services; with the remaining 1/3rd of the measure's revenue going to support Pasadena public schools?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Measure J is submitted to the voters by the Pasadena City Council as an advisory measure and, without binding the City, would advise the City to allocate any Transactions and Use Tax proceeds (should the separate Measure I pass) in a particular manner.

On July 16, 2018, the City Council of the City of Pasadena (“Council”) approved submission of an advisory measure for voter approval at the November 2018 general election that asks whether the City should allocate any Transactions and Use Tax proceeds such that 2/3 of that tax revenue is spent on general fund services, and 1/3 is spent on Pasadena public schools. The Transactions and Use Tax is the subject of a separate measure, Measure I, which would become part of the local sales tax if Measure I passes.

The Measure
If passed, Measure J would advise that the City use 2/3 of any Transactions and Use Tax annual revenue for general governmental purposes, such as repairing aging infrastructure, maintaining public services for residents, and providing services to the homeless, with the remaining 1/3 of that tax revenue going to support Pasadena public schools. Measure J is not binding on the City.

Measure J’s effect is dependent on the passage of a separate measure, Measure I, which is also on the November 2018 ballot and would amend the Pasadena Municipal Code to establish a Transactions and Use Tax that is part of the local sales tax. If Measure I does not pass, then Measure J will have no effect, regardless of whether Measure J passes.

Measure J requires approval of a majority of voters. A “yes” vote for Measure J will advise the City as to allocation of any Transactions and Use Tax as set forth above. A “no” vote against Measure J will not advise the City as to allocation of any Transactions and Use Tax.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Measure J advises the Pasadena City Council to use one-third of sales tax revenue from Measure I to protect and strengthen public schools. This additional support is essential for our children’s future.

Pasadena schools have made significant progress in recent years. Successful magnet programs focus on science, technology, and art. Dual language and international programs are drawing more parents into the public schools, from both within the district and from neighboring areas.

Now, however, this hard-won progress is at risk because the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) faces a major financial crisis.

The district has suffered from the unprecedented state funding cuts during the Great Recession. State funding support has increased since 2007, but even as funding has been restored to pre-recession levels, the rising cost of state and federal mandates has far outpaced revenue increases.

Due to demographic pressures, Pasadena also has fewer children than before, which means less state funding.

Neighboring school districts facing these same issues have already taken action. Most have raised local taxes and invested in their schools. Pasadena has not.

PUSD has already begun laying off teachers and staff, eliminating site personnel serving students. Without Measure J, future cost reductions or state revenue decreases will further impact student services: class sizes may increase; art and music programs may be threatened; advanced courses in math and science and special programs will face significant challenges.

Our children deserve better. Measure J will provide stable local funding, independent of uncertain State and Federal funds.

Good schools benefit everyone in our community, help protect property values, and are essential for a strong economy.

To protect our schools we must pass BOTH Measure I and Measure J. Please join us in voting YES on BOTH MEASURES!

Vice President, Board of Education

School Board Member

School Board Member

Clerk, Board of Education

Mayor, City of Pasadena

Arguments AGAINST

Even if you favor the sales tax increase, do you really want one-third of it to go to the School District as presently constituted? Consider the District’s abysmal performance to date. Students continue to flee from the public schools. Student enrollment is down, but spending continues to increase, though not for the benefit of students, teachers, or staff. Administrators, however, still do very well. The District continues to operate more schools than it needs or can afford, but it refuses to consolidate and convert surplus property into income. The District has known about its fiscal challenges for years but has consistently failed to take the necessary action. Its performance has been so poor that last year the District was threatened with a takeover by the LA County Office of Education. Yes, the District does face certain increased costs, but is the answer to give still more of your money to the same people who failed to address the problems in the first place? Recall that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Give more money to the present District, and you should expect the same result. Why not let the District clean up its own house first and only then ask the voters for more?

Former Chair, Citizens’ Oversight Committee

Replies to Arguments FOR

The proponents of Measure J are trying to scare you. Unless they receive more of your tax dollars, they threaten that more teachers will be dismissed; class sizes will increase; and worthy academic programs will be cut. Why would those be things they cut? There was no mention of alternatives to punishing our children, such as monetizing surplus school property, reducing both the large number of administrators or their compensation, reducing overhead and wasteful expenditures, or introducing competent fiscal management and cost control. You aren’t being offered a plan, but you are being asked to give more money and trust that it will be used wisely. Really?

The District’s record of financial management is terrible. The financial crisis they now cite to justify increased funding is something that was entirely foreseeable but something the District simply allowed to happen. Yes, fewer students mean less state funding, but there are fewer students because they have been voting with their feet to escape a school system that has failed them.

We agree with the proponents of Measure J: our children deserve better—better than what they have been getting. Measure J would let the City give the District millions of dollars without imposing any conditions, standards, reforms, or accountability for results. Why would the same bureaucracy and same system do a better job this time around? Let’s insist on real reform first and then consider additional funding.

Please vote “NO” on Measure J.

Chair, Citizens’ Oversight Committee

Former Chair, Citizens’ Oversight Committee

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Don’t be misled by inaccurate attacks on our schools. Here are the facts:

Pasadena schools have made strong progress.

Hard-won gains are now threatened by a financial crisis.

The crisis is driven by loss of state funding and costly state and federal mandates.

PUSD has acted responsibly to balance the budget, but deeper cuts will threaten academic progress.

Measure J provides our schools with stable local funding the State cannot touch.

Let’s get specific:Despite challenging conditions, performance is the opposite of “abysmal.” In the last three years test scores are up 6% in math and 9% in English. Graduation rates are at record highs. 2018 graduates were accepted by the nation’s most prestigious universities: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Caltech, Julliard, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC and many more.

Students are not “fleeing.” Ongoing enrollment declines are due almost entirely to a shrinking local pool of school-aged children.

PUSD has not ignored demographic trends: the district closed six schools; is evaluating property usage; and raises $5 million a year by renting out facilities – with plans to raise millions more through a land exchange for District Headquarters.

PUSD’s current budget is balanced – with a 3% reserve and administrative costs per pupil BELOW the state average for similar districts.

After cutting schools, administrators, teachers and support staff, PUSD still faces serious financial challenges. Here’s why: Unlike neighboring districts, PUSD receives no extra local funding. That’s why we need Measure I and Measure J.

Please vote YES on BOTH measures to protect and strengthen our schools!

Former Member Citizen’s Oversight Committee

PUSD Teacher, Pasadena Resident

Special Education Advocate

Board President, Pasadena Educational Foundation

Business Owner/Former PUSD Board President

Use tabs to select your choice. Use return to create a choice. You can access your choices by navigating to 'My Choices'.

Please share this site to help others research their voting choices.