Students walking on the UC Berkeley campus

Funding capital needs at UC and CSU

Support for a 2024 K-16 GO Bond

The University of California and the California State University system are both dependent on capital investment to enroll and house more California students, modernize teaching and research facilities, make needed seismic upgrades, and transition campuses to clean energy systems. A general obligation (GO) bond would help both UC and CSU fund these critical needs.

Unmet capital needs at UC and CSU

The University of California 2022-28 Capital Financial Plan presented to the Board of Regents in November 2022 identified $51 billion in unfunded capital needs for UC campuses and medical centers, the majority of which ($35 billion) is in state-supportable facilities. The CSU’s Five Year Capital Outlay Plan approved by the Board of Trustees in November 2022 identified totals over $26.9 billion of academic and self-support projects across the 23-campus system. The five-year total includes $7.8 billion in Critical Facilities Renewal projects.

General obligation bonds as a funding mechanism for capital needs

Capital improvements for public infrastructure projects are often funded through bond financing: The State sells the bonds to investors in exchange for a guaranteed rate of return. The State issues three types of bonds: traditional revenue bonds, which are paid for by a revenue stream that is not State general funds; lease revenue bonds, which are typically paid for with State general fund dollars; and general obligation (GO) bonds, which are paid with State general funds.

In the past, the UC and CSU have been the beneficiaries of both lease revenue and general obligation bonds. Unlike many ballot measures that require 55 percent or a two-thirds vote to pass, the threshold for voters to approve a GO bond approval is 50 percent +1 vote.

Current 2024 GO bond proposals

As in 2020, there are two measures in the Senate and the Assembly that, if approved, would place education-related bond measures on the 2024 California ballot.

Senator Glazer introduced SB 28, with bill language that adheres closely to the AB 48 compromise bill from 2019. K-12 and CCC backers have once again introduced their own measure — AB 247 (Assemblymember Muratsuchi) — which would provide an unspecified sum for K-12 and CCC at a yet-to- be-identified ballot date in 2024. For a new bill to qualify for the March 2024 primary, lawmakers would need to pass legislation in 2023. If, however, the bond was instead to be placed on the November 2024 general election ballot, lawmakers could vote to authorize the measure by summer of 2024.