California Proposition 81, Bonds for Libraries (June 2006)

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California Proposition 81, or the Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2006, was on the June 6, 2006 ballot in California as a legislatively-referred bond act, where it was defeated.

Proposition 81, if approved, would have allowed the State of California to sell $600 million of general obligation bonds for local library facilities. The money would have been used to:

  • Construct new libraries.
  • Expand or renovate existing libraries.
  • Acquire land for new or expanded libraries.
  • Provide related furnishings and equipment.

The money could not have been used to:

  • Buy books or other library materials.
  • Pay for administrative csts
  • Pay for interest
  • Pay any of the ongoing operating costs of a new or renovated library facility.

Election results

Proposition 81
Defeatedd No2,591,01252.7%
Yes 2,326,354 47.3%

Text of measure

Proposition 81 2006.PNG


The ballot title was:

California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2006. Bond Act.


The question on the ballot was:

"Shall the state sell $600 million in bonds to provide grants to local agencies for the construction, renovation, and/or expansion of local library facilities?"


The official summary provided to describe Proposition 81 said:

  • This act provides for a bond issue in an amount not to exceed a total of six hundred million dollars ($600,000,000) to provide funds for the construction and renovation of public library facilities in order to expand access to reading and literacy programs in California's public education system and to expand access to public library services for all residents of California.
  • First priority given to eligible projects that were not funded under 2000 Library Bond Act.
  • State General Fund money appropriated to pay off bonds.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

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

  • State cost of about $1.2 billion over 30 years to pay off both the principal ($600 million) and interest ($570 million) costs of the bonds. Payments of about $40 million per year.
  • One-time local costs (statewide) of about $320 million to pay for a share of library facility projects.
  • Potential additional local operating costs (statewide) of several millions of dollars annually.



The official voter guide arguments in favor of Proposition 81 were signed by:


Arguments in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 81 included:

  • "Proposition 81 strengthens the partnership between local schools and libraries."
  • "Local libraries are vital to education, provide a safe place for children, and serve the disabled."
  • "Libraries are underfunded and in disrepair."
  • "Proposition 81 is not a tax increase."
  • "State pays 65%—local government pays 35%."
  • "Proposition 81 puts money into vital needs, not administrative overhead."
  • "By strengthening the partnership between libraries and schools, Proposition 81 will be an important part of achieving California’s literacy goals and strengthening our entire educational system."


Two campaign finance committees in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 81 were established.[1]

"Yes on Prop 81-Californians for Literacy and Community Libraries" raised a total of $552,984, including these larger donations:

"California Library Association, Committee to Support Proposition 81" raised $32,780.

The total raised by both committees in favor of a "yes" vote was $585,764.



The official voter guide arguments opposing Proposition 81 were signed by:


Arguments opposing Proposition 81 included:

  • "It is never enough. Did you realize that, prior to 1986, the state only owed $4 billion in bonds? California and its taxpayers built our entire freeway system, the entire university system, our water system, and all of our grade and high schools without borrowing a dime. Today, we, our children, and our grandchildren owe over $50 billion, a one thousand two hundred and fifty percent increase in just 20 years. And it is still not enough."
  • "In 1988, the politicians told us our libraries were in trouble, and needed more money. We were told that even though the state had a $20 billion budget, we were in trouble. We were told that the state could not afford to spend anything out of its budget on libraries, and we had to borrow the money. So we took out our credit card and borrowed $75 million. But it wasn’t enough."
  • "In 2000, we were told our libraries were in trouble again, and, even though the state budget was $64 billion, we could not afford to spend a dime of that money on libraries, and we had to borrow another $350 million for libraries. We were told by the politicians we would save our libraries if we just borrowed this money one more time. So we took out our credit card again, and borrowed the money. Six years later, we are again being told that we need to borrow money for libraries, only this time they need $600 million."
  • "Since 1988, the price tag for our libraries has risen 600 percent in borrowed money. Since 1988, the state budget has increased 500 percent, from $20 billion to $100 billion. The state has five times the money it had in 1988, and it can’t find $600 million for libraries? In our present budget, $600 million is 6/10ths of one percent of the budget. We spent $9 billion on illegal alien welfare last year, yet the state can’t find one dime in money for libraries, and has to borrow money again? Something is wrong."
  • "We are going to be told how important libraries are, and how we have to borrow the money again. These politicians want our children and our grandchildren to keep paying more and more, so they can keep giving more and more of their money to illegal aliens and self-indulgent bureaucrats. The only way we can stop this is to say no. Maybe if we say no, they will quit asking us to pull out the credit card. Maybe they will quit spending money on stuff we don’t want, and start spending it on stuff we do want, like libraries. Instead of letting them borrow the money, we need to tell them to take the money away from the illegals, and give it to us in libraries. Please say no to this bond. It is not a no to libraries; it is a no to self-indulgent politicians who have spent our tax dollars unwisely."


No money was spent opposing Proposition 81.

Path to the ballot

The California State Legislature voted to put Proposition 81 on the ballot via Senate Bill 1161 (Statutes of 2004, Ch. 698).

Votes in legislature to refer to ballot
Chamber Ayes Noes
Assembly 57 15
Senate 28 9

See also

External links