Pros, cons of Prop. 55: School buildings |

Pros, cons of Prop. 55: School buildings

Prepared by the League of Women Voters of California

This is the first of four pro-con looks at statewide propositions on the March 2 California election ballot, prepared by the League of Women Voters of California. Voters are urged to save each of them for Election Day. (A Spanish-language version can be found online at

Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2004

The question

Should the state sell $12.3 billion in general obligation bonds for construction and renovation of K-12 school facilities and higher education facilities?

The situation

In November 2002, the voters approved Proposition 47, the first $13 billion of a $25 billion bond package for K-12 and higher education facilities construction and repair. The size of the package was based on the backlog of unfunded projects and projections of over one million additional K-12 students and about 700,000 college students entering the system in the next decade.

The proposal

Proposition 55 allows the state to issue $12.3 billion of general obligation bonds for construction and renovation of K-12 school facilities and higher education facilities.

– $10.0 billion for K-12 facilities:

– $5.26 billion for new construction with local districts paying 50 percent of costs. (Up to $300 million of this amount would be available for charter school facilities.)

– $2.25 billion for rehabilitation of older schools with local districts paying 40 percent of costs

– $2.44 billion for districts with critically overcrowded schools

-$50 million for joint-use projects such as facilities used by both a K-12 school district and a local library district

– $2.3 billion for public higher education facilities – construction of new buildings and related infrastructure, alteration of existing buildings, and purchase of equipment for use in these buildings:

– $920 million for community colleges

– $690 million for the California State University

– $690 million for the University of California.

The governor and legislature would select the specific projects to be funded.

Fiscal effect

Costs are estimated to be $24.7 billion over 30 years, with average payment for principal and interest being $823 million a year.

What a yes or no vote means

A YES vote means that $12.3 billion in general obligation bonds could be sold for construction and renovation of K-12 school facilities and higher education facilities.

A NO vote means that $12.3 billion in general obligation bonds could not be sold for these purposes.

Supporters say . . .

– 73 percent of California classrooms are over 25 years old and our classrooms are the third most crowded in the nation.

– Proposition 55 is an investment in the future of our economy, and it will produce local jobs.

– The measure contains strict accountability standards to assure that the funds are not wasted.

– The state treasurer says that Proposition 55 is a sound investment.

Opponents say . . .

– California has tens of billions of dollars in outstanding bonds and has the worst credit rating in the nation. This is no time to take on more debt.

– We could build and repair schools without borrowing the funds if the issue was given a higher priority in the state budget.

– Half of all school districts received nothing from the 2002 bond measure. Many districts cannot meet the 40 percent local matching fund requirement.

– 25 percent of the funds would go to Los Angeles, which has only 12 percent of the students.

For more information:

Supporters: Californians for Accountability and Better Schools, 888-563-0055,

Opponents: California Taxpayer Protection Committee, 916-991-9300,

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