2020 L.A. County election results: Prop 13 school bond measure

A bond measure that would raise $15 billion for new construction and renovation at schools and colleges across California was trailing in returns Tuesday night, but nearly half of the state’s precincts had yet to report any results.

Although “no” votes were leading statewide, early numbers from some of the state’s heavily Democratic counties, including San Francisco and Alameda, suggested a closer race. The measure, which is not a tax and will be funded through general obligation bonds, needs a simple majority to pass.

Of the bond’s $15-billion total, $6 billion would be divided evenly among the University of California, Cal State and community college systems, and $9 billion would go to preschool through K-12 schools, including charter schools and career and technical education facilities.

“I feel very optimistic,” said Jeff Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers, which endorsed the measure. “I believe in the voters of California who have done a great job in supporting schools in California, and I think it can pass.”

Ahead of the vote, Proposition 13, which has no relation to the 1978 measure that capped property tax increases, enjoyed widespread support from public school districts, teachers unions, charter advocates, and all three systems of higher education. Notably absent from the list of endorsers was the Los Angeles Unified School District, where officials did not say how much money they expected to lose or gain from the measure.

Concerns about L.A.’s eligibility for the funds and reduced revenues from developer fees may have played a role in their lack of an official endorsement. L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner said he considered Proposition 13 helpful, but L.A. public schools need much more than the bond measure would provide.

In the past, the state awarded funds on a “first come, first served” basis, which critics said gave an advantage to bigger and wealthier districts. Under the new Proposition 13, districts that demonstrate a need to make “health and life-safety repairs,” have a hard time raising funds locally, and serve high shares of low-income students, English learners and foster youth will receive priority consideration.

The measure also changes how districts may raise money locally. It increases the amount they can issue in local bonds but reduces the “impact fees” that they may charge developers of multi-family housing, especially when that development is near transit.

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