A key issue on the March 2 ballot is Proposition 55, a bond measure that would provide funding for education facilities throughout California.
Prop 55 would ease overcrowding in schools and make overdue safety repairs in California’s public schools, from kindergarten to high school. It also would provide necessary improvements and additions to facilities at California’s postsecondary education: the community colleges, the state university system and the University of California – including UCSB.
The Kindergarten-University Public Education Act of 2004 would authorize $10 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade and $2.3 billion for higher education. The UC system would use the $688 million in allocated Prop 55 funds to help accommodate a surge of approximately 63,000 additional students expected by 2010. This is greater than the current enrollments of UC Berkeley and UCLA combined. The UC regents have endorsed Prop 55 as the bond that would allocate funds to build classrooms and modernize research facilities that help create jobs and expand California’s economy. This past weekend, the Board of Trustees of the UCSB Foundation also approved a motion endorsing Prop 55.
At UCSB, Prop 55 would provide nearly $69 million for several projects, including the Psychology Building addition and renewal, renovation of the biological sciences buildings, construction of the education and social sciences building, and addition to the main library. Funds would also be used for important upgrades to the electrical infrastructure throughout the campus.
The bond used to finance these projects would not result in a tax increase but rather would be repaid out of the state’s general fund over a 30-year period. This is similar to a family borrowing money from a bank to buy a home and paying off the loan over a period of 30 years.
Prop 55 has been endorsed by the California State Parent Teacher Association, California Taxpayers’ Association, California Chamber of Commerce and Congress of California Seniors, among other organizations. Opponents of Prop 55 include State Sen. Rico Oller, 1st Senate District, National Tax-Limitation Committee and 60 Plus Association.
Reasonable people have diverging views on this and most other election issues. I believe our state is best served when citizens consider the facts from all perspectives and then make an informed decision.
Henry T. Yang is the UCSB chancellor.