Vote “YES!” on Prop 51: Public Education Facilities



Expect to see tons of initiatives on the November 2016 General Election vote, all seeking your “yes” vote. In addition to Proposition 58, the LEARN initiative (CABE and Californians Together strongly supports this initiative) there are two others requiring your attention. This post will focus on the school bond initiative.

Prop 52: How much funding and how will it be spent?

Proposition 51 (2016) The California Public Education Facilities Bond Initiative

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Image of ants in school water fountain of a CA school.  Source: RepairNotIpads/Facebook

Essentially this initiative would authorize the state to issue $9 million dollars in bonds to fund improvement and construction of school facilities for K-12 schools and community colleges. The initiative authorizes $9 billion in general obligation funds: $3 billion for new construction and $3 billion for modernization of K-12 public school facilities; $1 billion for charter schools and vocational education facilities; and $2 billion for California Community Colleges facilities. The initiative bars: 1) amendment to existing authority to levy developer fees to fund school facilities, until new construction bond proceeds are spent or December 31, 2020 whichever is earlier and 2) amendment to existing State Allocation Board process for allocating school construction funding, as to these bonds. The initiative appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off the bonds. The California Legislative Analyst Office states the fiscal impact of the initiative as: “State General Fund costs of $17.6 billion to pay off the principal ($9 billlion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on bonds over a period of 35 years and somewhat higher in the intervening years.

What is the historical significance?

This bond initiative will be the first education-related bond measure to appear on the ballot since 2006, and it is the first ever education-related bond measure that was citizen initiated. In 2014, the California State Assembly passed legislation seeking a school bond but Governor Brown opposed before it could pass the California state Senate, so it did not qualify for the 2014 ballot.

Why should I vote “YES!” on Prop 51?

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Image from Google Search

The Californians for Quality Schools provide these arguments in support of the initiative include:

  • It’s been 10 years since California last authorized a statewide school bond to build new neighborhood schools and upgrade older classrooms.
  • The state’s bond fund is depleted.
  • There is a growing $2 billion backlog of K-12 school districtprojects waiting for funding that have been submitted to the state under the current program to make safety repairs, complete seismic renovations, build new schools and make technology improvements.
  • It is estimated that future school construction funding needs is more than $20 billion over the next decade.
  • Approximately $2 billion in high priority Community College projects are waiting state funding.

Who supports Prop 51?

Image from Google Search
Image from Google Search

Organizations in support of the initiative include the Californians for Quality Schools, Coalition for Adequate School Housing, California Building Industry Association, California State PTA, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, California Association of School Business Officials and the California Democratic and Republican Parties.

Who opposes Prop 51?

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Image from Google Search

Organizations opposed to date include the California Taxpayers, Educators Opposed to Sprawl and Developer Abuse and Governor Brown. Governor Brown called the bond initiative “a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money that would be far better spent in low-income communities”. He is concerned about taking on additional debt for construction of educational facilities and seeks change in school construction finance. Governor Brown has said he wishes to overhaul the school facility funding
process into a system where the state would pay to construct and modernize schools in areas that could not raise funding through a local ballot initiative Governor Brown asserts the current system favors wealthy districts and big districts, like LA Unified, with large facilities staff who can get the applications done quickly, according to the administration. I am informed that the wording in the initiative prohibits the legislature from modifying the language and the terms of this initiative.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 2.46.20 PMWhere can I learn more?

In order to become better informed as to how you should vote on this measure, here are some links providing further information on the initiative:

How can I help?

Additionally, you should speak with your school board members, school superintendent, or principal and ask them how will Proposition 51 directly impacts your child’s school and other schools in the district.

Martha Zaragoza-Díaz, CABE Lobbyist
Martha Zaragoza-Díaz
CABE Lobbyist