California voters on Tuesday will be asked to weigh a $15 billion bond that would change the way schools serving students from kindergarten through university get money for campus improvements.
This Proposition 13 — the only statewide measure on the March 3 ballot — has no relation to 1978's Proposition 13, which capped property tax increases and thus cut school funding. However, a separate initiative related to the original 13 will appear on the November ballot.
A yes vote on Tuesday’s proposition would approve California’s largest school bond ever.
It was put on the ballot by state lawmakers, who say the funding is critical to the future of education in California. The measure would allow the state to borrow money to pay for building renovations and construction on all public campuses, which serve about 9.2 million students statewide.
“The money would come out of the state general fund,” said Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell of Long Beach, one of the proposal’s authors. “It does not come out of your property taxes.”
The plan allocates $9 billion toward K-12 schools, with priority given to campuses with asbestos, mold or contaminated drinking water. The other $6 billion would be split among community colleges and the University of California and California State University systems.
The measure would also change how funds are allocated, setting some aside for low-income districts. Money is currently allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, which some say benefits affluent districts with more resources dedicated toward funding applications.
It also raises the limit on how much local districts can borrow in their own local voter-approved measures. Critics say they fear that could mean higher property taxes in the long run.
The nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office says Proposition 13 would cost the state a total of $26 billion with interest factored in, or about $740 million a year over the next 35 years.
More than half of likely voters — 51% — say they’ll approve it, while 42% plan to vote no and another 8% are undecided, according to the Public Policy Institute of California’s most recent statewide survey.
The measure’s proponents include teachers and firefighters unions and school systems — though notably, the Los Angeles Unified School District has not endorsed it.
Its main opponent is the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the conservative anti-tax lobbying group named for the man behind 1978’s Proposition 13.