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Proposition 13: What We Know So Far

(L.A. County official sample ballot)
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Get the analysis of this vote >>

Proposition 13 is the only statewide proposition on the California primary ballot.

Voters are being asked to approve $15 billion in bonds to fund a long list of projects for California public schools and higher education systems, including earthquake retrofitting, fire safety, removing lead from water, and building affordable student housing.

For decades, the state and school districts have built educational facilities with bond funds. It’s an expensive way to do it. The Legislative Analyst Office estimates that Proposition 13 will end up costing California taxpayers $26 billion -- $15 billion for the principal and $11 billion for the interest on the bonds sold.

Here’s how Proposition 13 funds it would be divided up if approved:

  • $9 billion for pre-K to grade 12 schools, $500 million of that would go to charter schools
  • $6 billion for the University of California, California State University, and community college systems.

“Despite research showing students learn better in classrooms which are modern and safe, too many school buildings are dilapidated, unsafe, and unhealthy,” says the official statement in support of Proposition 13, signed by Brian Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, E. Toby Boyd, president of the California Teachers Association, and Pamela Kahn, president of the California School Nurses Association.
Opponents of the measure say it puts too heavy a burden on taxpayers.

“Instead of spending the state’s $21 billion surplus on upgrading school facilities and providing high quality education for our children, the Governor and the Legislature are wasting our money on their own pet projects,” says the official ballot statement against the bond measure, signed by Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association, along with State Sen. Brian Jones (Republican representing 38th District, El Cajon area), and retired teacher Larry Sand.


This Prop. 13 is unrelated to the 1978 ballot measure with the same name. The most famous Prop. 13 capped property tax increases. This propostion would permit $15 billion in state bonds that would go toward construction and modernization projects to improve California’s K-12 schools and college campuses.


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Financial impact: The independent Legislative Analyst’s office estimates Prop. 13 will cost taxpayers an additional $11 billion in interest payments.

Supporters say Prop 13 provides much needed renovations and focuses on modernization rather than new construction.

Those opposed argue the cost of paying off the bonds would be an extra drain on the state’s general fund. They're also concerned that the measure would make it easier for local governments to sell bond which could drive up property taxes.



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