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California School Bond Wars Heat Up

Branché Jones

February 10, 2016


california bondsOne of the big policy fights that has been simmering around the Capitol over the last year is whether to place a school bond on the Primary or General election ballot this year. Education advocates and builders have been consistently saying that the state needs new dollars for school construction and modernization while the administration has been opposed on several fronts.
First, the administration does not want the state to incur new debt, as the Governor has worked hard to reduce the state’s past obligations and get the state back on a sound fiscal track. Second, the administration believes that there should be a new building program because the old state school facility program is not effective. As this tug of war has played out a coalition of builders, education advocates and architects have moved forward and qualified a ballot measure for the general election in November. Fearing that this ballot measure could endanger the prospects of extending the taxes (which will also be on the November ballot) the administration and the California Teachers Association are currently working with legislative staff to craft their own competitive measure that would be placed on the June primary ballot. To get it onto the June ballot the legislature must pass it with a 2/3 vote by February 16th (if they do not find a way to extend the deadline). We will keep you updated as the process moves forward. Below are some points from both proposals:
Bond on the November ballot:

  • $9 Billion total
  • $3 Billion for K-12 New Construction
  • $3 Billion for K-12 Modernization
  • $2 Billion for Community Colleges
  • $500 Million for Charter Schools
  • $500 Million for Career Tech
  • Funds under the current state facility program requiring a 50% local match

Current administrative/legislative proposal being drafted:

  • Dollar figure has not been set yet (rumored amount $4-5 billion)
  • Funds the True Unfunded List ($375 million)
  • Changes the state building program only for this bond
  • Local match is a sliding scale (33/50/66 percent) based upon a formula of per pupil AV
  • A CSFA loan program will be funded if a district is out of local funds
  • Authorizes County Offices of Education to issue bonds
  • Precludes New Construction dollars for portables or determining district capacity
  • Requires a 5 year Master Plan that will feed a formula for eligibility
  • Threshold for requiring DSA review increased from $40,000 to $100,000
  • Raises bond indebtedness cap
  • Accountability would be through an annual audit
  • Eligibility based upon 5-year projection allowing a supplemental projection with valid final
    subdivision maps
  • Would establish Charter School apportionment process that parallels that established for
    school districts
  • Includes Community Colleges
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