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Action Guide
March 7, 2000

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF CALIFORNIA

SUPPORTS

Proposition 26 — School Facilities. Local Majority Vote. Bonds, Taxes
Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute

DESCRIPTION

Proposition 26 amends the California Constitution to allow school and community college districts and county education offices to issue bonds for construction, renovation, or replacement of school facilities and to authorize property taxes higher than the existing 1% limit to repay the bonds, if approved by a majority of the voters in the district, rather than the current two-thirds. To qualify, a bond measure must not allow bonds to be used for salaries or other operating expenses; must require annual performance and financial audits; and must require inclusion of a specific list of projects after consideration of safety, class size reduction, and information technology needs.

The measure amends existing statutes to require that facilities be available to public charter schools sufficient to accommodate those schools' students, but the school district could charge a charter school for use of the facilities.

The Legislative Analyst estimates there could be increased local school district costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars a year, depending on local voter action. The impact on state costs could result in savings in the long run if local districts take on more responsibility for funding their school facilities.

BACKGROUND

The California Constitution now requires a two-thirds vote to pass a local bond measure. It limits property taxes to 1 percent of the value of property, and says property taxes may only exceed the limit to pay for bonds approved by a two-thirds majority of the voters. Responsibility for school facilities falls on local districts, paid for by local general obligation bonds, some special local bonds (Mello-Roos bonds), or developer fees. The state has also provided assistance to K-12 schools, most recently with a $6.7 billion issue approved by voters in 1998 as part of Proposition 1A. Under this program, the state pays up to 50% of the cost of new facilities, 80% of modernization costs, and 100% of the costs of either in certain "hardship" cases. Most community college facilities have been funded by state bonds, but local bonds may also be used.

Charter schools are independent schools, but are part of the school system in that they operate under contracts with local school districts, county boards of education or the State Board of Education. School districts must now allow charter schools to use school facilities that are not in use at no charge.

Between 1986 and June 1999 local school district voters approved bond measures totaling more than $17 billion, but during that period almost $11 billion in bonds received more than 50% voter approval, but less than the necessary two-thirds. Local community college district voters approved almost $330 million in bonds, while almost $390 million of bonds were approved by more than a majority but less than two-thirds of the voters.

IMPORTANT POINTS


SUPPORTERS
Signing the ballot argument for:
OPPONENTS
Signing the ballot argument against:
Lavonne McBroom, President
California PTA

Allan Zaremberg, President
California Chamber of Commerce

Wayne Johnson, President
California Teachers Association

Jon Coupal, Chairman
Don't Double Your Property Taxes

Felicia Elkinson, Past President
Council of Sacramento Senior Organizations

Richard H. Close, President
Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association

The rebuttal to the opposition's arguments was signed by Jacki Antee, President, American Association of Retired Persons; Bill Hauck, Chairman, California Business for Education Excellence; and Gail Dryden, President, League of Women Voters.

Other supporters mentioned in the ballot arguments include California Manufacturers Association, California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, California Business Roundtable and Congress of California Seniors.


RESOURCES

Let's Fix Our Schools Committee--Yes on Prop. 26, 916-554-0324, info@letsfixourschools.com, www.letsfixourschools.com


Return to Action Guide Summary, March 2000. On what other propositions is the League recommending a vote?
Go to LWVCEF's Nonpartisan Proposition Analyses.
Go find information about candidates and measures on your ballot at Smart Voter.
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