Bond measure would fund educational facilities improvements

Justin Edler Davis, Contributing Reporter

California Proposition 13, also known as the School and College Facilities Bond, is on the ballot March 3.  If the proposition is passed, the state would make payments totaling an estimated $26 billion, including $15 billion in principal and $11 billion in interest, over 35 years from the General Fund, according to the California Legislative Analyst. From the authorized $15 billion in general obligation bonds for school and college facilities, it will be broken down into $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges, according to Ballotpedia. 

 Projects from Prop 13 will improve facilities’ health/safety conditions which will include fire and earthquake safety as well as removing lead from water.  

School districts, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions will apply for funds for certain construction or modernization projects and then the state will decide how much money they will receive based on a variety of factors, according to Ema Sasic of The Bakersfield Californian.  

A common misconception is that this ballot measure is related Proposition 13 tax initiative that was passed in 1978.  

“They just happen to have the same number. Every 10 years, the state repeats the cycle for numbering measures on the state ballot in the order they come in. Passing the school bond will not alter the previous Prop. 13,” wrote EdSource’s John Fensterwald in his article titled “What California voters need to know about proposed $15 billion school construction bond: a quick guide.” 

Michael Uhlenkamp, Senior Director of Public Affairs for The California State University said that approval of Prop. 13 would be instrumental in helping the university address aging infrastructure that exists across all 23 campuses. 

To provide some context about the issue, more than half of CSU facilities are 40 years or older, with one third more than 50 years old. Based on our university-wide capital plan, the CSU has identified more than $15.4 billion in academic facilities needs with $1.2 billion of that total coming from seismic projects and $3.6 billion in deferred maintenance. The backlog grows about $290 million every year,” Uhlenkamp said.  

There is widespread support of the ballot measure across the state that include the California Democratic Party and Governor Gavin Newsom. “Yes on Prop 13” is leading the charge to get it passed.  

Opposition to the ballot is very small with the only two known opponents being Senator Brian Jones and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.  

“A hidden provision of Prop. 13 (2020) nearly doubles the limits school districts can borrow. This means huge increases in property taxes are a near certainty. Who pays property taxes? We all do, either directly in property tax bills or through higher rents and other costs. Unlike the Prop. 13 from 1978, this Prop. 13 puts all taxpayers at risk of higher taxes,” wrote Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, in an article titled “Hidden agenda in masquerading big bond measure.” 

According to Ballotpedia, the total campaign contributions in support totaled $9,669,217.16, while opponents of the ballot measure haven’t raised a single cent.