When Borrowing $142.4 Billion for School Construction Isn’t Enough

On January 12, 2015, the Sacramento Bee reported that “school-construction and home-building groups have launched an effort to qualify a $9 billion school bond for the November 2016 ballot…The last state school bond was in 2006, and the pot of new construction and modernization money is virtually empty.”

See California School Builders, Others to Gather Signatures for November 2016 Bond Measure

If the proposed bond measure qualifies for the ballot, its title will be the “Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016.” Read the proposed text and the “Findings and Declarations” to justify the bond measure:

Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016 – Request for Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative

According to the Findings and Declarations, the bond measure will “provide a comprehensive and fiscally responsible approach for addressing the school facility needs for all Californians.”

What it doesn’t mention is that California voters since 2002 have authorized the state, K-12 school districts, and community college districts to borrow a total of $142.4 billion for K-12 school and community college construction.

It also doesn’t mention that bond measures authorize governments to borrow money via bond sales and then pay it back over time, with interest. That $9 billion will likely end up costing about $20 billion over 30-40 years. The $142.4 billion authorized since 2002 for educational construction will likely end up costing $300 billion or more.

Finally, it doesn’t mention that the State of California already has $75.7 billion in outstanding bond debt and an additional $25.7 billion in authorized-but-unissued bonds. Note also that the State of California has not yet sold $9 billion of the $9.95 billion it is authorized to borrow via bond sales for California High-Speed Rail.

Obtain a PDF version of the list of 870 state and local bond measures approved by California voters since 2002 for K-12 school district and community college district construction:

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Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and a policy analyst for the California Policy Center. Dayton is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at on the California Policy Center’s Prosperity Forum and Union Watch, as well as well as on his own website LaborIssuesSolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

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