1oo percent of precincts reporting partial returns—will be updated when all results are certified.


School districts pay for building new schools and updating older ones with a mix of local and state money, generally financed through bonds. It’s been a decade since California voters approved a bond measure allowing the state to borrow money for school construction. Now the state’s existing stash of school construction money is almost gone, yet local school districts report a backlog of construction projects that will cost billions to complete.

What would it do?

Prop. 51 authorizes $9 billion in bonds to build new schools and modernize existing ones. Most of the money would be for K-12 schools, with about $2 billion for community colleges.

What would it cost?

Borrowing the $9 billion would cost the state an extra $8.6 billion in interest. The state would likely pay off the debt over 35 years, at a cost of about $500 million a year.

Why is it on the ballot?

Usually school bonds land on the ballot because the Legislature puts them there. That hasn’t happened in recent years, so home builders, developers and school construction companies got together to put this measure on the ballot on their own.

What supporters say:

California’s aging campuses need safety repairs and tech upgrades, while growing neighborhoods want to build new schools. The bonds will provide students a better learning environment, without directly raising taxes.  

What opponents say:

Prop. 51 benefits suburban home builders without doing much to help schools in low-income communities. Bonds are expensive—costing almost as much in interest as the amount borrowed—and put the state further in debt.


California Parent Teacher Association

California Chamber of Commerce

California Building Industry Association

California Labor Federation


Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Gov. Jerry Brown

California Taxpayers Action Network

Show me the money:

More information:

  • Gov. Jerry Brown explains to the Los Angeles Times why he’s against this school bond, calling it a “blunderbuss effort.”
  • Republican state Sen. Janet Nguyen makes the case in favor of Prop. 51, writing in The Orange County Register that the bonds will keep school districts from pursuing parcel taxes or property tax increases.
  • Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters explains how big money fuels the business of school bonds.

Newspaper Editorials:

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