The University of California Student Association endorsed the California State Proposition 13, School and College Facilities Bond on Saturday, Jan. 11. The Proposition, commonly referred to as the Prop 13 Bond, will provide $15 billion in bonds for public schools and university facilities, $2 billion of which will go to the UC system.
Initially proposed as SB 14 by State Senator Steve Glazer, the higher education finance bill merged and became AB 48, which was formally introduced by California Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell. It was passed in both houses and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2019. The bill now moves as a proposition for the California people to vote on in the primary elections in March 2020.
The bill and this subsequent Proposition aims to renovate aging educational facilities throughout California. Some buildings in the UC system will need to be fixed to meet necessary safety standards.
“The UC has billions of dollars in outstanding deferred maintenance issues,” UCSA President Varsha Sarveshwar said. “The UC has a lot of buildings that need to be renovated, torn down and rebuilt, and retrofitted so that they can be safe. But they basically don’t have money to do it themselves.”
Public universities in California have not received a facilities bond since 2006. Due to the subsequent 2008 Recession, then Governor Jerry Brown was unwilling to provide the necessary funding to finance such an initiative. With the passage of the bill and the upcoming proposition vote, UCSA has tasked members to gather pictures and information on lecture halls and residential areas that are in need of renovation.
“In general, for me, there’s a lot of buildings that need to be fixed, that need to be updated so that if there is an earthquake, it would actually be safe to be in,” UCSA Vice Chair of Government Relations Kimberly Giangtran said. “In addition, the Marshall Lower Apartments flood often. We also need more chairs in lecture halls so that people won’t need to be sitting on the floor.”
Adding to the issue of dilapidated buildings in K-12 schools as well as other public universities, California Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell found the impetus to take action. After passing the bill in the Legislature, O’Donnell has gone around California to speak about Prop 13 and educate people on the importance of modern school facilities. He also spoke to the UCSD Guardian to explain the Proposition’s funding mechanism.
“Prop 13 will be financed by a series of bonds over 7-8 years,” O’Donnell said. “Those bonds will be sold and the money earned will go to the higher education system to address the needs across our state. To pay for the bonds, money will be drawn from the state’s General Fund. It will not come from student tuition, fees, or the university budget itself.”
To promote the passage of the proposition, UCSA has assigned all External Vice Presidents in each of the UC system to release an Op-Ed in their school newspaper. Beyond influencing the student population, UCSA also recognizes the need to advocate for Prop 13 to the general population.
“The number one thing we need people to do is to get registered to vote,” Tran said. “We can’t vote yes on Prop 13 if you are not registered. Our [Student Organized Voter Access Committee] Commission at UCSD has gone door to door in [college] residential areas to make people more aware of the upcoming election and getting people registered to vote. They have also worked hard to get more polling stations on campus.”
The Proposition 13 Bond measure will be on the California primary ballot on March 3, 2020. In order to be eligible to vote on this, Californians above the age of 18 will need to register to vote and head to the polls on the aforementioned date.
Photo by Brendan Wilson for the UCSD Guardian.