On March 3, 2020, Californians will decide one statewide ballot measure, Proposition 13. The measure is a $15-billion bond that would provide funds for school and college facilities. Proposition 13 would also make changes to the formula used to distribute state bond funds to schools, the rules governing local bond measures, and school districts’ abilities to assess developer fees.
Of the $15 billion in bonds that would be authorized by Proposition 13, $9 billion would be allocated toward preschool and K-12 schools. The state government would use the bond revenue to provide matching funds to school districts. Proposition 13 would require the state Department of General Services to consider several factors, such as districts’ finances, overcrowding, and earthquake risks, when determining which modernization and construction applications to prioritize.
Proposition 13 would make changes to school districts’ abilities to raise revenue with local bond measures. Districts would be permitted to issue a higher amount of local general obligation bonds. The limit on bond amounts would increase from 1.25 percent to 2.0 percent of assessed property value for elementary and high school districts. In California, school districts must place local general obligation bonds on the ballot, and the bond measure must receive 55 percent of the vote to be approved. Proposition 13 would also prohibit school districts from levying developer fees on multifamily residential developments, such as apartment complexes, within 0.5 miles of a major transit stop. Currently, school districts are permitted to assess one-time fees on developments to provide funds for school construction if the district can show that the new development would bring students into the district.
Proposition 13 would appropriate $6.0 billion to higher institutions of education: $2.0 billion to the California State University, $2.0 billion to the University of California and Hastings College of the Law, and $2.0 billion to community colleges. The state government would provide bond revenue for colleges’ and universities’ projects as part of the annual budget act. Proposition 13 would require the CSU Board of Trustees and the UC Regents to adopt five-year affordable student housing plans for campuses that seek bond funds.
Proposition 13 was placed on the ballot by the California State Legislature. In the state Senate, every Democrat and 6 of 11 (55 percent) Republicans voted for the proposal. In the state House, every Democrat and 17 of 18 (94 percent) Republicans backed referring the measure to the ballot. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the legislation for Proposition 13 on October 7, 2019.
Californians for Safe Schools and Healthy Learning, also known as Yes on Prop 13, is leading the campaign in support of Proposition 13. Gov. Newsom is a principal officer of the campaign committee. Californians for Safe Schools and Healthy Learning, along with five additional allied committees, raised $9.67 million through February 15, 2020. The largest donations came from the California Teachers Association ($500,000) and the California Charter Schools Association ($400,000). There were no committees organized to fund opposition to the ballot measure. Opponents include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Californians last voted on a school facilities bond measure in 2016, which passed with 55 percent of the vote. The bond measure, titled Proposition 51, issued $7 billion for K-12 education facilities and $2 billion for colleges. Between 1998 and 2019, voters approved five bond measures for school facilities—Proposition 1A (1998), Proposition 47 (2002), Proposition 55 (2004), Proposition 1D (2006), and Proposition 51 (2016). The last time that voters rejected a school facilities bond measure was in 1994, in which a K-12 facilities bond and a separate higher education facilities bond were both defeated. The Public Policy Institute of California has released four polls of Proposition 13 since September 2019, with the polls finding that between 48 percent and 53 percent of voters support the bond measure. An additional 6 percent to 16 percent were undecided in the polls.
While Proposition 13 is the only statewide measure to appear on the ballot for March 3, 2020, in California, both citizen-initiated measures and legislative referrals can be placed on the ballot for November 3, 2020, until 131 days before the general election, which is June 26, 2020.
Click here to learn more about California’s Proposition 13, School and College Facilities Bond