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Proposition 13 – School Bonds

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Official Title:

Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020


This proposition authorizes $15 billion in state general obligation bonds for construction and modernization of public education facilities, including school, community college, and university facility projects.

A YES vote on Proposition 13 means the state could sell $15 billion in general obligation bonds to fund school, community college, and university facility projects.  In addition, school districts and community college districts would be authorized to issue more local bonds.

A NO vote on Proposition 13 means the state could not sell such bonds.


Proposition 13 allows the state to sell general obligation bonds totaling $15 billion – of which $9 billion is for public schools and $6 billion is for higher education facilities.  The funding for school facilities is designated for four types of projects: (1) renovation, (2) new construction, (3) charter schools, and (4) career technical education facilities.  The higher education funding is spread evenly among the California Community Colleges, the California State University and the University of California.

In addition, Proposition 13 makes a number of changes to the rules governing public education facility projects, including allowing school districts and community colleges to issue a higher amount of local general obligation bonds.

From 2002 through 2016, voters approved four education facility bond measures that provided a total of $45 billion in state bond funding.  Of this the state has already sold bonds totaling $37.2 billion, with $7.8 billion not yet sold to investors.  However, the state has already received applications nearly in excess of this remaining bond authority for school projects.

Fiscal Impact:

According to the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO), the cost to taxpayers to repay the bonds would be approximately $26 billion to pay off principal ($15 billion) and interest ($11 billion) on bonds over a period of 35 years.  Annual payments would average $740 million.

CCC Position:

No position


Supporters of Proposition 13 include Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Professional Firefighters, the California Teachers Association, the California School Nurses Association, the California State Parent Teachers Association, and the Association of California School Administrators.

Supporters of Proposition 13 argue that it will fund essential repairs to make California public schools safer and healthier.  They contend that the current condition of California public school buildings is unacceptable.  Despite research showing students learn better in classrooms which are modern and safe, too many school buildings are dilapidated, unsafe, and unhealthy.  Supports state that Proposition 13 is an essential step forward to protecting and educating our children.


Opponents of Proposition 13 include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association. 

Opponents of Proposition 13 argue that it authorizes $15 billion in borrowing, costing taxpayers nearly $27 billion including interest, to build and repair schools.  They state that borrowing is nearly twice as expensive as paying for school construction from the regular budget, which has a huge $21 billion surplus.  Opponents also argue that a hidden provision of Proposition 13 nearly doubles the limits school districts can borrow, which will result in an increase in property taxes.

Reflections on Church Teaching:

"All men of every race, condition and age, since they enjoy the dignity of a human being, have an inalienable right to an education that is in keeping with their ultimate goal, their ability, their sex, and the culture and tradition of their country, and also in harmony with their fraternal association with other peoples in the fostering of true unity and peace on earth. For a true education aims at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end and of the good of the societies of which, as man, he is a member, and in whose obligations, as an adult, he will share."  Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), Vatican II (1965).

"It is incumbent on those who exercise authority to strengthen the values that inspire the confidence of the members of the group and encourage them to put themselves at the service of others. Participation begins with education and culture. One is entitled to think that the future of humanity is in the hands of those who are capable of providing the generations to come with reasons for life and optimism."  Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1917.

“Education cannot be neutral. It is either positive or negative; either it enriches or it impoverishes; either it enables a person to grow or it lessens, even corrupts him. The mission of schools is to develop a sense of truth, of what is good and beautiful. And this occurs through a rich path made up of many ingredients. This is why there are so many subjects — because development is the results of different elements that act together and stimulate intelligence, knowledge, the emotions, the body, and so on.”  Pope Francis, address with Italian school teachers, May 10, 2014.