During the November election, voters must decide if they want $10.4 billion of their money to go toward numerous public school infrastructure renovations.
If passed, Proposition 1D will give public schools, California Community Colleges, the University of California and California State Universities $10.4 billion to repair facilities, improve earthquake safety and fund vocational educational facilities. The money is also intended to relieve California’s overcrowded classrooms, as the funds would in part be used to construct new buildings.
Marty Levy, director of Capital Development at UCSB, said the bond would allocate approximately $45.2 million of the total amount to UCSB over the next two years.
“The impact for our campus is that this funding will be used to provide additional teaching facilities, faculty offices and instructional teaching labs that will benefit about 24 academic units on campus,” Levy said.
Levy said the money from the bond would be distributed to universities based on the progress of school construction plans.
“The total amount the University of California gets in one year is about $345 million,” Levy said. “For the first year of the bond, UC Santa Barbara will receive about 35.6 million of that.”
According to UCSB project proposals for this year, approximately $24.6 million from the first year of the bond would fund construction for a new Education and Social Sciences Building. The building would benefit 21 campus departments as well as house the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education.
Money from the first year of the bond would additionally repair the university’s electrical infrastructure system, plumbing, storm drains and sewer lines.
“That’s just one year, and the next year the UC gets the same amount, but how much each university gets is completely dependent on where your project is in its schedule,” Levy said. “The more projects you have ready for construction in those two years, the more money you get.”
The bond’s first year plan would also allocate money for the preparation of preliminary plans and work drawings to improve seismic safety in the Arts Building, as well as for designs for an addition and renovation to Davidson Library.
“Our library has not been expanded since the mid-1970s even though our enrollment has nearly doubled in that period of time,” Levy said.
According to Levy, most of the construction on the library would take place during the bond’s second year.
“These things are all approaching 40 years in age, so this funding will replace and upgrade that infrastructure and will address seismic safety concerns,” Levy said.
Joe Armendariz, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, which opposes the proposition, said state agencies have used bond money inappropriately in the past.
“One of the biggest problems in California is the level of accountability state agencies have when the voters give them billions and billions of bond money,” Armendariz said.
SBCTA is a local non-partisan, citizen’s advocacy group that promotes lower taxes and efficient tax money use, Armendariz said.
“Our group has been around for over 50 years and we have endorsed billions of dollars of local bond money for schools,” Armendariz said. “We believe in the need to invest in our facilities, but the fact is that the debt level in California is simply too high and that these bonds, when you pay them back including the principle and interest, are too expensive.”
Levy said building more space is necessary to accommodate the high levels of enrollment in the UC system.
“What it would mean if the bond doesn’t pass is that we would have to look to less cost-effective, lower quality solutions,” Levy said. “These are all facilities that are used by and open to the citizens of California, everybody needs to assess the return the university gives back to the state.”