Update: After a week in legislative limbo, a bill that would have placed a $4.3 billion school construction bond on the November ballot is now officially dead. With a veto by Gov. Jerry Brown likely, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, pulled AB 2235, which she co-sponsored.  In a statement on Tuesday, Buchanan, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, said that Brown made it clear that he did not want a school bond competing with a $7.5 billion water bond and his proposal for a rainy day fund on the fall ballot. She also said that officials from the Department of Finance indicated that the governor questions whether the state has a role in funding future school building projects. Stating her belief that funding school facilities is  part of  the state’s constitutional responsibility to educate children, Buchanan said that “the ultimate decision” on this issue “may rest with the courts.” – Updated, Aug. 19.

A slimmed-down school construction bond measure approved by a state Senate committee on Thursday faces an uncertain future.

Even if the full Senate approves the measure next week, there is a good chance that Gov. Jerry Brown will veto it.  And, even if he were to sign the bill, it might already be too late to get the proposal on this November’s ballot for voter approval.

By a 7-0 vote, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved Assembly Bill 2235, creating a bond for $4.3 billion – a little less than half of the $9 billion in the original bill. The bulk would go toward new construction ($1.23 billion) and renovations ($2.47 billion) for K-12 schools, with $600 million divided equally among community colleges, the University of California and California State University campuses.

Up to 5 percent of the K-12 portion would be allocated for charter schools. As in the past, the K-12 portion of state construction money would be matched by school districts, which would pay half of the cost for new construction, with the state paying 60 cents out of every dollar for school renovations.

Voters last approved a state bond for school construction, for $10.4 billion, in 2006, and the state agency that administers the allocations has run out of money. The major education organizations representing teachers, school boards and administrators, and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing, representing school districts, contractors and architects, have pressed for the bill, which is co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

It may, however, be too late for voters to get their say. The Legislature already extended the deadline for propositions to be included in the ballot guide for the November election when it passed a $7.5 billion water bond on Wednesday. A school construction bond measure would have to be written up in a supplemental ballot guide, and it’s unclear whether final passage next week would be too late. Legislative aides gave conflicting opinions regarding whether the deadline for getting it on the ballot had already passed. The Secretary of State’s Office, which will determine the drop-dead deadline, didn’t respond to a request for a comment.

Brown led negotiations for the water bond, his priority for the legislative session, but H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance, said in an email Thursday that Brown remains opposed to another  school bond, even the smaller version approved by the Senate committee.  A Department of Finance analysis of the bill said that the administration “is focused on paying down existing obligations and saving for a rainy day” – not adding to debt service, “crowding out other state priorities.” The state currently is paying $3 billion annually in debt service for existing school bonds; a new $4.3 billion bond would add $280 million per year to that, the analysis estimates.

Brown, in his state budget message, also has complained that the process for getting school construction projects approved is too complex, that the first-come, first-served basis for getting matching state money favors large districts with sizable facilities staffs, and that standard building requirements may not encourage non-traditional ways to educate students using less space and fewer facilities.

Buchanan has said she’s willing to accommodate the governor’s concerns, but that the administration has not offered specific solutions to address them.

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  1. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Oliver Wendell Holmes once said something along the lines of, “Taxes buy us civilization.” All of the anti-civilization folks line up right over here…

  2. tom 2 years ago2 years ago

    Is anyone else getting discussed about Governor Brown's lack of support for schools? First was the Prop 30 threat to cut education budgets if it did not pass, then was the huge increase in School District payments (up to 19.1%) to shore up the teacher pension fund on the backs of our kids, now he is looking to veto AB2233! He says he is concerned about debt payments - does he really … Read More

    Is anyone else getting discussed about Governor Brown’s lack of support for schools? First was the Prop 30 threat to cut education budgets if it did not pass, then was the huge increase in School District payments (up to 19.1%) to shore up the teacher pension fund on the backs of our kids, now he is looking to veto AB2233! He says he is concerned about debt payments – does he really think we don’t see his other spending priorities, e.g. high speed rail, twin water tunnels? Horrible.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      You are aware that CA is 50th (49th if you're an optimist) in school funding per child? If Brown took all the potential H-S rail and water project funds (not that the tunnels are a good idea, but funding isn't the issue) and put them towards education it would hardly move the needle. CA has many needs and doesn't collect enough revenue to support any at appropriate levels. CA has about 1/3 of its teaching force … Read More

      You are aware that CA is 50th (49th if you’re an optimist) in school funding per child? If Brown took all the potential H-S rail and water project funds (not that the tunnels are a good idea, but funding isn’t the issue) and put them towards education it would hardly move the needle. CA has many needs and doesn’t collect enough revenue to support any at appropriate levels.

      CA has about 1/3 of its teaching force about to retire as the Boomers ease out of the profession and applications to credential programs are down by more than 1/2. CA teachers continue the national trend of about 1/2 of them leaving the profession within the first five years. We now face a problem of getting new teachers and have always faced the problem of keeping teachers.

      There is a dangerous, Orwellian, fantasy that has become part of the “conventional wisdom” that CA has problems getting rid of teachers and is making the profession even more unattractive. Compensation has been flat/declining for 7 years and many who should know better find it problematic that teachers want it to be increased. Others think too many people in the state have secure retirements and want the teachers’ pension system to be under threat. (Pensions are “on the backs of our kids…”?! Who do you think is in the classroom everyday with your kids? Silicon Valley tech savants?)

      CA’s real problems are: 1) keeping teachers in the classroom; 2) creating a revenue stream that is comparable to it’s status as the state with the 2nd highest cost-of-living in the nation, the most people in poverty, and the most kids in poverty who also have the most second language issues in the nation. This is NOT an exhaustive list.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        "There is a dangerous, Orwellian, fantasy that has become part of the “conventional wisdom” that CA has problems getting rid of teachers... " That's hardly a fantasy. Statistically, California teachers have the most secure jobs in the US and that is hardly a debatable point. Before your reasoning as to why LEAs couldn't dismiss incompetent and ineffective teachers was that there's a lack of evidence to prove incompetency. The old catch 22. Now you say … Read More

        “There is a dangerous, Orwellian, fantasy that has become part of the “conventional wisdom” that CA has problems getting rid of teachers… ” That’s hardly a fantasy. Statistically, California teachers have the most secure jobs in the US and that is hardly a debatable point.

        Before your reasoning as to why LEAs couldn’t dismiss incompetent and ineffective teachers was that there’s a lack of evidence to prove incompetency. The old catch 22. Now you say we can’t dismiss them because it would reduce the already dwindling number of teachers. That’s a huge issue, but hardly a good reason to retain a failing teacher at a school. Better to take your chances on someone new than bank on failure – unless of course the students sitting in the classroom are not your first priority..

      • tom 2 years ago2 years ago

        Yes Gary, I'm very aware of the under funding of K-12's and very upset that our politicians, like Brown, have different priorities. I have three young children and am directly affected by the under funding. I'm not convinced though on your statement that the high speed rail spending is a drop in the bucket. According to the CDE website, K-12 spending this year is about $40 billion. The voter-approved spending on … Read More

        Yes Gary, I’m very aware of the under funding of K-12’s and very upset that our politicians, like Brown, have different priorities. I have three young children and am directly affected by the under funding.

        I’m not convinced though on your statement that the high speed rail spending is a drop in the bucket. According to the CDE website, K-12 spending this year is about $40 billion. The voter-approved spending on the rail project is about $10 billion, and the High Speed Rail Authority puts the total cost at $68.4 billion. That spending is spread out and the cost/year is not spelled out but bottom line it amounts to a lot of money that could be redirected to our kids and not some expensive, massive infrastructure project of arguable benefit.

        As far as raising more revenue by increasing taxes, CA is already at or near the top in the 50 states in combined taxes. Confiscating more and more of other people’s hard earned money is just not good fiscal policy and is not sustainable. Nobody is forced to live here. We need a better economy with more people working I believe, not a punitive government unfriendly to business AND our kids.

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          CA is a moderate tax state, about # 12 in the nation in "unadjusted dollars." It has the #2 cost-of-living in the nation. Housing costs are astronomical. A way of looking at the situation is this: as you acknowledge CA spending in around 50th in the nation in "adjusted (for regional cost-of-living) dollars," but it is about 50% of the state's expenditures." Where would CA's other services "rate in adjusted dollars? Where does that put … Read More

          CA is a moderate tax state, about # 12 in the nation in “unadjusted dollars.” It has the #2 cost-of-living in the nation. Housing costs are astronomical.

          A way of looking at the situation is this: as you acknowledge CA spending in around 50th in the nation in “adjusted (for regional cost-of-living) dollars,” but it is about 50% of the state’s expenditures.” Where would CA’s other services “rate in adjusted dollars? Where does that put CA’s revenue stream in real buying power? Not high.

          There is no evidence that CA is any more unfriendly to business than any other state and it has many attractions as a place to live that other states lack.

          Taxes are not “other peoples money.” Taxes are the dollars government collects to support necessary services. In a democracy, “we” are the government. “We” are collecting our own dollars, just like we do for defense at the national level.

          CA has the richest economy in the US, and one of the wealthiest in the world if looked at as its own entity. Given that, the fact that CA has the lowest national school spending per child, poor social services, and the highest poverty rate in the nation is a travesty.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            The Equality of Opportunity Project rated California as 50th after New York with the 2nd highest state taxes in adjusted dollars. This is a joint project put together by Harvard and Berkeley economics professors. http://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-be-a-taxpayer/2416/ There's a reason why Toyota just pulled the majority of it 5,000 employees out of Torrance, CA and moved to Texas. Gary said, "Taxes are not “other peoples money.” Taxes are the dollars government collects to support necessary services. In a … Read More

            The Equality of Opportunity Project rated California as 50th after New York with the 2nd highest state taxes in adjusted dollars. This is a joint project put together by Harvard and Berkeley economics professors.

            http://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-be-a-taxpayer/2416/

            There’s a reason why Toyota just pulled the majority of it 5,000 employees out of Torrance, CA and moved to Texas.

            Gary said, “Taxes are not “other peoples money.” Taxes are the dollars government collects to support necessary services. In a democracy, “we” are the government…”

            You weren’t too happy when The Vergara ruling removed the “property” of teacher tenure, but now your espousing removing income property because we are the people. By that logic we could expropriate all of it and to hell with personal property rights.

            • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

              Don: California has a very progressive income tax (probably too dependent on the top 1 percent, which creates volatility in revenue). I wonder if that is factored into the index. Raw numbers may be deceiving.

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          California is #4 in the percentage of it's GDP which is taxed, after the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut). Prop 13 didn't make us a low tax state, we just tax other areas now. We really ought to spend more on education, but many voters don't wish to throw good money after bad, and many who make those decisions use private school and thus when push comes to shove, don't care. … Read More

          California is #4 in the percentage of it’s GDP which is taxed, after the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut). Prop 13 didn’t make us a low tax state, we just tax other areas now. We really ought to spend more on education, but many voters don’t wish to throw good money after bad, and many who make those decisions use private school and thus when push comes to shove, don’t care. We also spend far too much imprisoning people for victimless crimes such as drugs, and have sentences for serious crimes 3-4 times as long as in Europe. There is also tremendous corruption in spending. Arnold never found the waste, but it’s there. But we are not a low tax State. If you want to argue that we should be #1, make that argument, but remember, out of the 49 other states, only 3 pay a higher percentage than we do in taxes. In my view we need to be smarter about the money we already have. We can’t build a bridge without it going billions over budget, there’s no accountability, and that ends up hurting schools. However, the pay structure isn’t based on value add which causes inefficiencies as well. I have heard many a voter say they do believe teachers should earn more but won’t vote for it until they fix the tenure issue, and many are lifetime liberal Democrats who had one bad experience or two.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            What do you mean “many who make those decisions [how we use tax dollars] use private school and thus when push comes to shove, don’t care.” ?

            How much we spend on education is based upon the Prop 98 formulas which were passed by the voters of California.
            I agree with most of the other points in your comment. How we spend what we currently have is a matter for local districts to decide with LCFF.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            I believe statewide, we decide how much to spend on education, and how to prioritize that spending. Voters in California don't prioritize public school children. Money buys votes. Most don't pay that close attention. In effect, those with money have more votes than those without. They may not directly have votes, but the legislature will not cross them. The union has the legislature so scared they won't even think … Read More

            I believe statewide, we decide how much to spend on education, and how to prioritize that spending. Voters in California don’t prioritize public school children. Money buys votes. Most don’t pay that close attention. In effect, those with money have more votes than those without. They may not directly have votes, but the legislature will not cross them. The union has the legislature so scared they won’t even think about reform of LIFO/Seniority, which is why either the Vergara lawsuit or a ballot measure will be necessary to move onto a new paradigm. As for spending, those who can make phone calls to legislators, make donations, and have power often have their kids in private schools. California has some very very rich people, and not a powerful middle class. Brown v. Topeka is not seen by most as a call to positive action for all Citizens but as a law which can be evaded if you have the means to evade it, or the impact of it. We celebrate it, but we don’t embrace it in action. It is the same with funding. Why are we near the bottom in spending? Why do we prioritize adults over kids in the LIFO issue? Because at it’s heart, we place responsibility on the family. As a state with most students black or Latino, we are going to have to spend enough to turn the achievement gap around or live in a state which slowly becomes either much poorer, much more divided, or both. Some are wary of spending more money considering past increases have not led to significant scholastic improvement. We are in a dilemma. However, those who opt out of the system don’t use their influence to improve things. If Gavin Newsome, Nancy Pelosi, Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Damon, Barbara Boxer, Neal Kashkari, Dan Lungren, Adrianna Huffington, Larry Ellison, Carly Fiorina, the Gettys, Larry Baer, and the rest of the power elite had their kids in diverse public schools with significant numbers of struggling black and Latino students, in my opinion, California would be in the top 10 in spending per pupil just as we are in per person income. It is purely speculation, but it is my opinion. The power elite find it easier to opt out as individuals knowing most of us can’t than fight to fix education for all, reform LIFO, and provide the money it takes to give poor Latino immigrants a chance to compete with more affluent students. I always praise the hard work of poor Asians, so money isn’t the only issue, but it is a factor and we have to care as a community as much about the education of the children of the people who make our burritos and clean our bedrooms and babysit our children and pick our fruit as we do about the education of the child of the Kardashians/Gettys/Ellisons/Newsomes/Pelosis/Zuckerbergs, etc. If we don’t, we will not live up to our creed as the and of equal opportunity.