California lawmakers are considering whether to place an $8 billion general obligation bond measure on the March 2020 ballot. If approved by voters, the measure would let the University of California and the California State University system improve the seismic safety of their buildings and expand their physical capacity to serve thousands more California students. As this measure has attracted a significant amount of attention inside and outside the University, this website is designed to provide information for the University community.
Senate Bill 14, The Higher Education Facilities Bond Act of 2020, was authored by State Senators Steve Glazer and Ben Allen and Assembly members Jesse Gabriel and Jose Medina to help UC and CSU address major backlogs in deferred maintenance and accommodate greater student enrollment.
The measure has received bipartisan support in the Senate and is now being considered by the Assembly. To qualify for the ballot, it has to pass both houses with a two-thirds vote and be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Voters will then have a chance to weigh in, with a simple majority deciding in March 2020 whether or not to enact the measure.
If approved, the bond measure would allocate $8 billion in general obligation funds, to be split evenly by CSU and UC, for capital improvements and deferred maintenance.
It would be the first general obligation bond in support of UC since 2006, when voters authorized Proposition 1D which provided $345 million per year in 2006-07 and 2007-08 for capital improvements.
UC’s capital needs have grown significantly since the Proposition 1D funds were depleted. University administrators have identified more than $11.8 billion in unfunded capital needs across the 10-campus system and note that more than half of all UC space is more than 30 years old. In addition, UC enrollment increased by 10,000 students over the last few years, and campuses are now physically constrained in their ability to continue to add students.
Under the terms of the SB-14 legislation, prioritization would be given to projects that “significantly reduce seismic hazards in buildings identified as high priority by the University.” UC has also identified deferred maintenance and enrollment growth as significant factors in determining which projects might be funded with the bond proceeds.
Consistent with applicable law and University policy, the UC Board of Regents voted in May to give SB 14 a preliminary endorsement. In so doing, the Regents noted that the measure would help UC meet its commitment to expand student enrollment and make urgently needed seismic upgrades and other improvements to labs, classrooms, dorms and other facilities.
Specific projects have not yet been finalized, but if SB 14 is approved, it requires UC to submit a five-year capital outlay plan to the state legislature that prioritizes seismic retrofitting needed to reduce seismic hazards in buildings identified as high priority.
As a reminder, University funds (including University paid time and equipment) may not lawfully be used for “campaign” purposes in connection with supporting the bond measure. By contrast, University funds may be used for legitimate informational activities such as the information provided on this page. Legal guidelines are linked below, but for specific advice on drawing this distinction or on any aspect of applicable law, please contact the Office of General Counsel.
This page will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.