California Proposition 26, Approval of Local School Bonds by Majority Vote (2000)
Proposition 26 would have changed the California Constitution to lower the voting requirement for passage of local school bonds from a 2/3rds supermajority vote to a simple majority approval. It also would have changed California's laws regarding charter schools.
With respect to the majority vote requirement, this would have applied only if the local bond measure presented to the voters included:
- A requirement that the bond funds can be used only for construction, rehabilitation, equipping of school facilities, or the acquisition or lease of real property for school facilities.
- A specific list of school projects to be funded and the school board certifies it has evaluated safety, class size reduction, and information technology needs in developing the list.
- A requirement that the school board conduct annual, independent financial and performance audits until all bond funds have been spent to ensure that the bond funds have been used only for the projects listed in the measure.
With respect to the charter school provisions, Proposition 26 would have required each local K-12 school district to provide charter schools facilities sufficient to accommodate the charter school's students. School districts would not, however, have been required to spend their general discretionary revenues on these charter schools. Proposition 26 provided with respect to charter schools that:
- Charter school facilities must be "reasonably equivalent to the district schools that these students would otherwise attend."
- School districts could charge a fee to charter schools for their facilities.
- School districts could refuse to provide facilities for charter schools with a current or projected enrollment of fewer than 80 pupils.
Although Proposition 26 lost at the polls, eight months later, on the November 7, 2000 ballot, California voters approved Proposition 39, which reduced the percentage of the vote required to approve a local school bond measure from 66.67% to 55%.
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If Proposition 26 had been approved, it would have:
Proposition 26, if approved, would also have amended parts of the state's Education Code.
Carly Fiorina, a candidate in 2010 for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from California, endorsed a "yes" vote in 2000 on Proposition 26, saying, "California is one of only four states to require a two-thirds vote to fix our schools. It is an unfair, 120-year-old law that prevents a majority of local voters from deciding the fate of their school's future and leaves our children and grandchildren in dilapidated, unsafe and severely overcrowded facilities."
Chip Hanlon, the CEO of Red County, said when Fiorina's editorial came to light, "For years, liberal spendthrifts and RINOs alike have sought to undermine this supermajority protection, which has arguably been the one thing that prevented this state from having been driven into a no-growth, overtaxed ditch long ago-- the one we maybe headed for, anyway....without a good explanation [from Fiorina, of her support] -- a sterling, rock solid one-- this is a killer for me. If this holds up...then my choice will be simple: I will be voting for Chuck DeVore."
Text of measure
The ballot title was:
- Authorizes school, community college districts, and county education offices that evaluate safety, class size, information technology needs to issue bonds for construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or replacement of school facilities if approved by majority of applicable jurisdiction's voters.
- New accountability requirements include annual performance, financial audits.
- Prohibits use of bonds for salaries or other school operating expenses.
- Requires that facilities be available to public charter schools.
- Authorizes property taxes higher than existing 1% limit by majority vote, rather than two-thirds currently required, as necessary to pay the bonds
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The California Legislative Analyst's Office provided an estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact for Proposition 26. That estimate was:
- Increased local school district debt costs--potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars statewide each year within a decade. These costs would depend on voter action on future local school bond issues and would vary by individual district.
- Unknown impact on state costs. Potential longer-term state savings to the extent local school districts assume greater responsibility for funding school facilities.
$21,151,081 was spent in favor of the measure. $1,441,265 was spent opposing the measure.
Supporting the measure were:
Opposing the measure:
- Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, $605,589
- Official Voter Guide to Proposition 26
- Full text of Proposition 26
- Official declaration of the March 7, 2000 vote
- Smart Voter on Proposition 26
- Cal Voter on Prop 26
- Top Ten contributors