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California Lawmakers Propose $10 Billion Bonds for Climate and Schools
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By Associated Press
Published 2 weeks ago on
July 1, 2024

California lawmakers propose two $10 billion bond measures for climate resilience and school repairs on the November ballot. (Shutterstock)

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers on Sunday announced they plan to put two bond measures on the ballot in November, one that would ask voter approval to borrow $10 billion for climate programs and another that would borrow $10 billion to build or repair public schools.

Legislature Will Be Voting This Week

If passed by the Legislature later this week, the bonds would appear on the Nov. 5 ballot. Lawmakers announced the bond proposals on Sunday, one day after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed California’s budget. The spending plan closes an estimated $46.8 billion deficit in part through $16 billion in spending cuts.

“These bond measures are critical to the future of this state, and invest in our kids, their neighborhood schools, and they ensure communities big and small have access to clean drinking water and are wildfire safe,” Democratic state Senate President Pro Tempore Mike McGuire said in a statement.

Would Help Communities Recover

The climate initiative would help communities recover from wildfires, floods, drought and other natural catastrophes.

The clean water and wildfire bond would cover $10 billion in strategic investments for safe drinking water, as well as funding for “wildfire and forest resilience, sea-level rise, extreme heat mitigation, clean air, and protecting biodiversity,” according to a statement from McGuire’s office.

Officials said it would be the single largest investment in public funding for climate resilience in California’s history.

Second Measure on Repairing Schools

The second measure would provide $10 billion in borrowed money to modernize and repair schools. K-12 schools would get $8.5 billion, while California community colleges would receive $1.5 billion. The debt would be designated for new construction, improving existing campuses, career technical education and energy efficiency grants.

“Districts will be able to ensure schools have essential facilities like kitchens and libraries, equip students with the skills for high-demand technical careers, and provide greater access to broadband internet,” said Sen. Josh Newman, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “This bond ensures that our schools are safe, modern, and well-prepared for the 21st-century.”

Lawmakers passed the state budget last Wednesday after Newsom and legislative leaders both made concessions. They were forced for the second year in a row to pare back or delay some progressive policies that were previously paid for with the help of record-breaking surpluses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bond measures, if approved by voters, would allow legislators to borrow money not allocated by the budget. In March, voters narrowly — 50.18% to 49.82% — approved a plan to borrow $6.38 billion to build 4,350 housing units for homeless residents and add 6,800 mental health and addiction treatment beds.

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