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California Proposition 2, Bonds to Build and Improve County Jails (1982)

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California Proposition 2, or the County Jail Capital Expenditure Bond Act of 1981, was on the November 2, 1982 statewide general election ballot in California as a legislatively-referred bond act, where it was approved.

Proposition 2 authorized the State of California to issue and sell $280 million in state general obligation bonds to finance the construction, reconstruction, remodeling, and replacement of county jails, and for deferred maintenance on county jails.

Under the terms of Proposition 2, the Board of Corrections was authorized to decide how to distribute the $280 million between California's 58 counties and between new construction, remodeling and deferred maintenance activities. Under Proposition 2, at least 25% of expenditures from the $280 million had to be matched by counties using their own funds.

Although the Board of Corrections was given latitude to make expenditure decisions, Proposition 2 required the Board of Corrections to take into consideration these guidelines for allocation:

  • The extent to which counties had exhausted all other means of raising funds;
  • Whether counties could use the bond funds to attract other sources of financing;
  • Whether jail construction was necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of prisoners and staff; and
  • Whether counties were using reasonable alternatives to jailing persons.

Election results

Proposition 2
Approveda Yes 3,893,113 54.3%

Statutory impact

Proposition 2 added sections 4400, et. seq., to the California Penal Code.

Ballot summary

Proposition 2's official ballot summary said:

"This act provides for the construction, reconstruction, remodeling, and replacement of county jails and the performance of deferred maintenance thereon pursuant to a bond issue of two hundred eighty million dollars ($280,000,000)."

Fiscal impact

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

"The general obligation bonds authorized by this measure would be paid off over a period of up to 20 years. Under current law the state can sell bonds at any interest rate up to 11 percent.
If the full $280 million in general obligation bonds were sold at the maximum interest rate (11 percent) and paid off over a 20-year period, the interest cost to the state would be approximately $323 million. Thus, the cost of paying off the principal and interest on these bonds could total $603 million. This cost would be less if the bonds were sold at interest rates below 11 percent. The cost of paying off the bonds would be paid from the State General Fund using revenues received in future years.
The state and local governments could incur higher costs under other bond-finance programs if the bond sales authorized by the measure result in a higher overall interest rate on state and local bonds. These additional costs cannot be estimated.
The interest paid by the state on these bonds would be exempt from the state personal income tax. Therefore, to the extent that the bonds would be purchased by California taxpayers in lieu of taxable bonds, the state would experience a loss of income tax revenue. It is not possible, however, to estimate what this revenue loss would be.
Approval of this measure by the voters could increase by about $280 million the revenue that is available to counties for jail construction, remodeling, or deferred maintenance. However, the counties receiving the funds would incur costs of at least $70 million to provide a minimum of 25 percent in matching funds as required by the measure. The counties that build new facilities with the bond funds probably would incur additional operating expenses because current jail design standards tend to require higher staffing levels than older jails, and it generally is more expensive to administer and operate new jail facilities than it is to maintain crowded conditions within existing facilities. Additional jail space also could result in the lifting of court-imposed jail population limits, which would increase operating expenses. These costs might be incurred even if this measure is not approved, if counties or the state were to finance the construction or remodeling of jail facilities using other revenues."

Path to the ballot

The California State Legislature voted to put Proposition 2 on the ballot via Senate Bill 910 (Statutes of 1982, Ch. 34).

Votes in legislature to refer to ballot
Chamber Ayes Noes
Assembly 62 8
Senate 27 0

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