WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO
AB 48 by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell and Sen. Steve Glazer, both Democrats, would put a $15 billion state facilities bond on the March 2020 ballot that would divvy up $9 billion for K-12 and preschools, and $2 billion apiece for community colleges and the state’s two public university systems: the California State University and University of California.
WHO SUPPORTS IT?
The proposal, brokered at the 11th hour of this year’s legislative session, reflects a consensus among legislators, the governor’s Department of Finance and education interests that schools statewide urgently need to maintain and improve their facilities. Though California voters just passed a state bond in 2016, that $9 billion has already been earmarked or appropriated to schools.
The proposal has no registered opposition.
WHY IT MATTERS
In California, school facilities funding is heavily reliant on local school bonds, sowing inequities among public schools. AB 48 would add support for small districts, which have had difficulty passing bond measures. A larger share of the money would be earmarked for school modernization than in 2016, when the state bond equally emphasized renovations and new school construction despite declining enrollment. California’s crowded universities also face serious infrastructure challenges. In the UC system alone, leaky labs and classrooms that lack air conditioning add up to a $4 billion deferred maintenance backlog, and dozens of aging buildings are seismically unsafe, university studies have found.
Gov. Jerry Brown opposed the state bond that passed in 2016, which eventually made it on the ballot via referendum, but this administration has made education a signature issue. Newsom signed it Oct. 7, 2019.