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    Start now to defeat $20 billion in wasteful bonds advanced by the Legislature
    • July 5, 2024

    Last March 5, voters barely approved Proposition 1, the $6.4 billion homeless bond, 50.18% to 49.82%. Despite that, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature have now put two new bonds, totaling $20 billion, on the Nov. 5 ballot.

    Proposition 2 is $10 billion in bonds to upgrade K-12 and community college facilities. Proposition 4 is another $10 billion in bonds to deal with “severe climate change-related events.” 

    California’s financial shape isn’t good enough to support more statewide bonds. Only last week Newsom and the Legislature finished whittling down the state’s original $73 billion deficit for fiscal year 2024-25 – two weeks after the June 15 constitutional deadline to pass a budget. And on June 26 the governor declared a fiscal emergency, allowing state reserves to be tapped.

    On the new bonds, the Legislative Analyst’s Office soon will produce a financial analysis. But matters have not changed much from its analysis earlier this year of Prop. 1, which found the cost to pay off the $6.4 billion bond over 30 years would be $310 million annually. Using the same math, the $20 billion for the new education and climate bonds would cost $937.5 million a year from the general fund. That means it would just make the current fiscal emergency worse. Over time, the bonds will waste billions of dollars that could’ve gone toward productive uses and instead go toward paying off bond interest.

    On the education bond, the legislative Floor Report on the new state budget listed 2024-25 per pupil spending at $24,313 for all funds. For a class of 30, that’s $729,390. One class. Yet test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress continue to be dismal. 

    For example, for 4th graders in 2022, the last year available, just 30% ranked proficient or advanced. That was a drop from 34% in 2019. Much of that decline stemmed from the severe lockdowns Newsom and local schools mistakenly imposed during the 2020 COVID pandemic. It makes no sense to shovel more money to a system failing its students. No wonder in 2020 voters turned down Proposition 13, a similar school bond for $15 billion, with 53% voting against it. 

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    As to the new climate bond, in 2018 voters approved Proposition 68, a more modest $4 billion bond for parks, environment and water projects, with 58% in favor. But that was a time when California had a governor in Jerry Brown who at least had some degree of fiscal sense. The same cannot be said for Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

    A Public Policy Institute of California survey conducted May 23-June 2 found 64% thought it a “bad time” for new bonds. With inflation still digging in, especially for housing, it’s going to be tough sell to get voters to put themselves – and their children for the next 30 years – on the hook for payments of nearly $1 billion a year.

    Putting these bonds on the Nov. 5 ballot shows the governor and Legislature continue the fiscal irresponsibility that has been their hallmark this decade. Californians must stop enabling the spending addictions of their irresponsible representatives in Sacramento. Vote No and No.

    ​ Orange County Register