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Wise Investment in California's Future : Two vital June bond measures would help public schools, colleges and universities

March 15, 1992

California needs to build more public schools to accommodate a huge enrollment that is expected to grow by as many as 1 million youngsters in the next five years. Showing foresight and vision, the Legislature has overwhelmingly approved placing a $1.9-billion bond measure on the ballot to build new schools or modernize old campuses in every county.

Gov. Pete Wilson is expected to sign the legislation, which would put the bond measure on the June 2 ballot. If voters approve the bonds then, the state could take advantage of current low interest rates. If the bond measure fails, it would get a second chance at the ballot box, in November. The delay, however, would increase the cost to the state if interest rates go up in the meantime.

The governor is also expected to approve for the June ballot a similar, $900-million bond measure for public higher education. That bond measure will get no second chance if voters reject it.

California can afford these bond measures even in tight times because the state's debt ratio is comparatively low. Because the proposed bonds will not significantly increase indebtedness, they are likely to be attractive to bond houses and are not expected to aggravate concerns about the state's fiscal health.

The measure for primary and secondary schools would pay for requests already approved by the State Allocation Board. The new funds would reduce a $6-billion backlog. New schools would be built throughout the state, especially in fast-growing counties like Riverside and San Bernardino. Old schools would be renovated.

The Legislature would determine during the budget process how to spend the proceeds from the higher education bond measure. The funds would be spent on community colleges, state colleges and universities. Priority would go to projects that increase earthquake safety or access for handicapped students and faculty. The funds would also pay for new classrooms, libraries and laboratories at existing or already approved campuses. The new construction would pay off for millions of students.

There is another payoff as well: New construction and renovation would provide thousands of jobs throughout the state.

California's public schools and colleges are overcrowded and underfunded. The bond measures are worthy investments that deserve voters' support in June.

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