The new Proposition 13: A $15 billion bond for school facilities

Photo illustration. Image via iStock

What it would do:

This Proposition 13 would authorize a $15 billion bond for school modernization and construction projects. Here’s how it would break down: $9 billion for K-12 schools ,and $2 billion each for community colleges and the state’s two public university systems, the California State University and University of California.

What it would cost taxpayers:

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates it would cost the state about $740 million a year over the next 35 years to repay the costs of the bond, with interest. That’s a total estimated cost of $26 billion: the bond itself plus an added $11 billion in interest.

Why it’s on the ballot:

Lawmakers, Democrat and Republican, overwhelmingly voted to put this on the ballot, stressing California’s urgent need to modernize its facilities. Academics say that addressing a backlog of those needs would cost about $117 billion over the next decade. California voters approved a $9 billion school bond in 2016, but all that money has been accounted for and oversubscribed.

Arguments in favor:

One of the main selling points by advocates of the measure, including Gov. Gavin Newsom: This bond measure is structured differently from previous state bonds, focusing more on school modernization than new construction. Prop. 13, they say, will prioritize health and safety issues – such as mold and asbestos – and puts an end to the first-come, first-served application process that critics say has favored richer districts at the expense of needier ones.

Arguments against:

No organized campaign against the measure has yet surfaced. But opponents including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association contend that Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature should have spent the state’s $21 billion surplus to upgrade school facilities instead of “wasting our money on their own pet projects.” As a result, opponents note in ballot arguments, “Wasteful money pits in the vast education bureaucracy will grab much of this money” for “wasteful construction projects that benefit special interests.”

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