A new statewide school bond could soon make its way in front of voters, providing billions of dollars in funding to public preschools, K-12 and colleges.
If passed by the state legislature, the bond could be placed on the same ballot as Measure E, the tax measure that would provide funding for Fresno State’s athletic and academic facilities and programs.
The big picture: A couple weeks ago the California Senate passed Senate Bill 28, which expands local bonding capacity for school districts and places a $15.5 billion education facilities bond on the March 2024 ballot.
- Non-unified school districts would have their local bonding capacity raised from 1.25 percent to two percent of the taxable property in the district, and unified school districts would see their capacity increase from 2.5 percent to four percent.
- School districts that participate in the School Facility Program would have to submit five-year facilities master plans to the Office of Public School Construction.
- SB 28 would establish criteria for determining the state and local share of a school district’s project based on the district’s gross bonding capacity and the percentage of students that are low-income, English learners or foster youth.
- University of California and California State University regents would be required to develop a list of capital projects for consideration in the state’s annual budget.
- With support from the Senate in hand, SB 28 has entered the Assembly committee process.
The backstory: The last statewide school bond that passed was Proposition 51, which was approved by voters in 2016 and authorized $9 billion in bonds.
- However, three years ago California voters rejected a similar bond measure. Proposition 13 was a $15 billion school bond that failed with only 47 percent support in 2020.
Why it matters: Fresno County voters could be faced with a $15.5 billion statewide bond and Measure E next March.
- California State University schools would receive $2 billion from the bond. If the money is split evenly, each of the 23 CSU schools would receive around $87 million for facilities projects.
- On the other hand, Measure E would provide Fresno State with $1.4 billion over a 25-year term with its 0.25 percent sales tax increase.
- Backers of Measure E view SB 28 as a complementary effort which shows the state’s acknowledgement for the need of updated facilities throughout the CSU system.