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Gov. Jerry Brown Condemns State School Bond Measure for Promoting Sprawl

Ten newspapers have joined California Gov. Jerry Brown in opposing Proposition 51, a $9 billion bond ballot measure endorsed by both Democrats, including the lieutenant governor, and Republicans.
October 18, 2016, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Jeffrey B. Banke

California voters will need to sort through 17 ballot measures on November 8. The state "Official Voter Information Guide" is not a pamphlet, but a 223-page booklet.

bond measure that provides funds "to repair or renovate crumbling classrooms and build new facilities" would seem the least debatable of the three education measures, writes the editorial board of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. They add that Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown "calls it a 'blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money' that should instead first go to poorer school districts."

State funds should go to needy districts — with developers paying more to help districts that are trying to cope with an influx of students from additional residential development. Instead this measure‘s funding process favors schools that apply for projects early, allowing affluent districts with more seasoned administrators could muscle out poorer ones.

The Sentinel rarely, if ever, recommends voters turn down a school bond measure. But Prop. 51 just continues a pattern instead of bringing necessary reform...

The editorial board of the Sacramento Bee concurs.

The California Democratic and Republican parties endorse the measure, as does the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Labor Federation and many elected leaders including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. But Brown is correct, and we side with the governor...

"Gov. Jerry Brown is right: Prop. 51 an awful idea," opines The San Diego Union-Tribune. "The school bond process in California needs broad, fundamental reform," they add.

Brown is not the only one expressing disapproval of aspects of the measure. "The Legislative Analyst’s Office had an even more critical view of the current approach to funding school construction in its 2015-16 budget report," writes the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times.

“Notably,” it said, “the existing program fails to treat school facility costs as an ongoing expense despite the recurring nature of facility needs, allows disparities based on school district property wealth, fails to target funding according to greatest need...

They write that the LAO report goes on to criticize that new home developers will not pay the full costs of building the new schools to accommodate residents of their developments.

That extra subsidy for new construction at a time when many existing schools are underutilized only encourages the sprawl that has been an environmental and resources drain on the state.

Planetizen has also covered two other propositions that appear on next month's ballot:

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Published on Monday, October 17, 2016 in Planetizen
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