If you have trudged up multiple flights of stairs due to broken elevators, lived with three people in a dorm room built for two or struggled to get some outdated piece of equipment to work in a lab, you’ve seen evidence of the lack of funding for the upkeep of our campus and accommodation of our growing student population.

UC Santa Barbara is, like all of the state’s four-year public universities and colleges, strapped for the funds needed to keep its aging buildings, dorms and equipment up to date and to provide adequate housing for its students. 

Luckily, there is something all of us can do about it. 

We can vote “Yes” on March 3 for Prop. 13, a much-needed bond measure that will provide $15 billion to protect the health and safety of students in California’s public education institutions.

The bond measure will provide $9 billion to make pre-K through grade 12 public schools safer for students. Among other projects, it will fund the removal of asbestos and mold as well as the replacement of outdated drinking water systems.

For higher education, Prop. 13 will provide $6 billion to fix old buildings by making them earthquake secure, increase accessibility, and provide safe, modern classrooms at UC, CSU and community college campuses. Each higher education system will receive $2 billion to spend on improving their campuses with the priority of addressing fire and safety issues, seismic deficiencies and critical deferred maintenance issues. 

For those of us who have struggled to find housing, Prop. 13 will require UC Santa Barbara and any other campus receiving money to develop a five-year plan to create more affordable student housing. As we all know, this is incredibly important as UC enrollment has increased by 10,000 students over the last few years and campuses are struggling to accommodate this growth. 

The bond measure will also provide funds to fix buildings on UC campuses, where almost 60% of the buildings are more than 30 years old. Half of the spaces in CSU and community colleges are 40 years or older. All of the state’s four-year universities have large backlogs of deferred maintenance because funding for fixing aging buildings dropped dramatically during the Great Recession.

Officially titled the California Public Preschool, K-12 and College Health and Safety Bond, this bond measure has bipartisan support from UC and CSU alumni, including the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, teachers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, business leaders and military veterans.

The Secretary of State gave the bond measure the same number as the 1978 property tax measure, but this one is decidedly different. Not only will it pay for repairs and renovations, but it also affords significant protections for taxpayers’ money. It includes a provision which requires public hearings to get public input. In addition, the measure limits administrative costs and requires independent performance audits of the projects funded. 

Please help us get this vital bond measure approved by registering to vote and then voting “Yes” on Prop. 13 in the statewide election taking place on March 3. If you’re not registered to vote, make sure to do so by Feb. 18 by clicking here. (If you miss that deadline, you can conditionally register and vote at your county elections office.)

If you’re like me, and registered to vote at your parents’ home or won’t be in town on the day of the election, you can re-register to vote on campus or get an absentee ballot by filling out this form. Absentee voter forms are due Feb. 25. 

The March 3 election is closer than it seems. Absentee voting will begin in February, and this will be a closely watched election, with presidential candidates headlining the ballot. 

By exercising this important right to vote, we can make sure that campuses across the state are safer and healthier for all of us — and that all students in the state can attend classes in safe environments. So please join me in voting “YES” for Prop. 13 on March 3.

For more information about Prop.13, please visit http://yestohighered.org/

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