LAO Issues Report on Prop 51, State Facilities Funding

The Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) issued a report on the State’s funding of school facilities and provided an overview and an assessment of the Governor’s proposed bond sales schedule. Alternatives were also provided for the Legislature to consider.

After 10 years without a state school bond, voters approved Proposition 51 in November of 2016. As of April 2018, the state had apportioned less than 10% of Proposition 51 funding. In previous years, a level of staffing at OPSC was able to better keep pace with the demand. Prop 51 bond sales and funding of school projects have been metered at the slowest pace in the history of state school bonds. Proposition 51 bond sales have been regulated to a “continued apportionment” based upon the state’s ability to process and approve applications. Instead of staffing up to meet the demand for the funding in processing applications in the pipeline the state has processed applications a pace that the reduced staff at OPSC can manage.

In its latest, budget and policy post on the matter, issued on May 3, the LAO leaves it up to the legislature to determine the severity of the problem. The LAO indicates that the “severity of the situation depends on viewpoint” and if the legislature is concerned with the situation the report offers three alternatives for consideration:

  • Establish a five-year plan (compared to the current pace of 10 years) requiring OPSC to process $1.5 B in applications per year, or
  • Direct OPSC to task additional existing staff to process applications or
  • Direct OPSC to identify and implement ways to shorten processing times.

Approximately 7 million voters have spoken in voting yes on Proposition 51. The application backlog has been quantified and the need has been identified. Kudos to the Coalition for Adequate School Funding (CASH) for taking on this cause and articulating the need at the legislative level. A “Repair Our Schools” campaign has taken hold and the legislature is beginning to hear the concerns. Assembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees held hearings on May 8 and May 10 and a number of districts testified on their needs and expressed concerns with the lack of state action on the initiative. You are encouraged to visit the Repair Our Schools Now website and to send a message asking legislators to demand that $3 billion of school bonds be released to fill the need and the backlog. Please encourage your colleagues and friends to submit their own messages as well.

Click here for an overview from the LAO of the state’s funding of school facilities, details of the Governor’s school facility bond sales proposal, an assessment of this proposal, and alternatives for the Legislature to consider.

Click here for a previous 2017 report on the historic low level of OPSC staffing.