Proposition 13: Just the Facts

A lot has been and will be written about California’s new Proposition 13, which will appear on the March 3 ballot, and it’s important to set a few facts straight.

Also known as the School and College Facilities Bond, the measure would authorize the sale of $15 billion in bonds to finance school and college construction projects at preK-12, California Community Colleges, the California State University and the University of California systems. The biggest chunk, $9 billion, is designated for elementary, middle and high schools. An additional $6 billion would be split evenly among the California Community Colleges system, California State University and the University of California.

Proposition 13 would provide funding for California’s community colleges to address aging buildings and deteriorating infrastructure, comply with changing building codes, and remain in compliance with disabled access, environmental regulations and seismic retrofitting guidelines.

These are the facts:

  • California’s community colleges have collectively identified $29 billion in facility needs for the next five years. More than 62% of buildings are a quarter century old or older and are in dire need of renovation, modernization or replacement. Approximately half of permanent facilities are 40 years old or older. Some are contaminated with lead or asbestos, or both.
  • Absent a bond, addressing facility needs will come through operating funds and local bonds, diverting resources from educational resources for our students. In addition, the measure limits administrative costs to no more than 5% of a project, and every dollar spent will be audited.
  • The bond measure would benefit virtually every part of the state. Potential projects that could be financed through Proposition 13 include a public safety training center at Sierra College, a biological and physical sciences building at Moreno Valley College, a career education building at Santa Clarita College and a Performing Arts Center at Los Medanos College.
  • The $2 billion in school facility infrastructure investments would create approximately 34,000 middle class jobs.
  • Proposition 13 does not raise state taxes, and state matching funds through the measure will reduce the need for additional property taxes at the local level to pay for new facilities.

How vital is the California Community College system to the state? More than 31% of University of California and 51% of California State University graduates started at a California community college campus, and the system also comprises the largest workforce training program in the world. Eight in 10 California police officers, firefighters and EMTs were trained at a community college, as were 7 in 10 of our state’s nurses.

Proposition 13 was placed on the ballot after the state Legislature, where it was approved with wide bipartisan support. Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly signed the bill saying, “We are back asking the voters yet again to do what they historically have always done, and that is to embrace our children and embrace their fate and future and do more to do justice to the cause of public education in the state of California.”