Understanding that legal jargon and election ballot information can be confusing to voters, there is an added complexity regarding two initiatives impacting public education in this year’s election cycles on March 3, 2020 and potentially on November 3, 2020.

The two Proposition 13 related measures are known as The Californians for Safe Schools and Healthy Learning (on the March 3, 2020 ballot) and Schools and Local Communities First (proposed for the November 3, 2020 ballot). This article explains both initiatives and their current status in detail.

Proposition 13: Californians for Safe Schools and Healthy Learning (March 3, 2020)

On October 7, 2019, Governor Newsom signed AB 48 (O’Donnell and Glazer), which placed a $15 billion state school facilities bond on the March 3, 2020 statewide primary election. The Secretary of State assigned the heavily supported initiative by state officials, educators and administrators, and education organizations with the ballot number Proposition 13.

According to the recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) statewide survey, 53 percent of likely voters support a statewide measure to authorize bonds for construction and modernization of public school facilities, with 36 percent opposing it and 10 percent as undecided.

K-12 Programs

    • New construction: $2.8 billion, with up to 10 percent set aside for small school districts
    • Modernization: $5.2 billion, with up to 10 percent set aside for small school districts and $150 million earmarked for lead in water projects
    • K-12 Career Technical Education: $500 million
    • Charter Schools: $500 million

Higher Education

    • California Community Colleges: $2 billion
    • California State University: $2 billion
    • University of California: $2 billion

Grant Amounts

    • New Construction projects: Increases the state grant amount sliding scale basis, from 50% to 55% (New state match 55% and local match 45%).
    • Modernization projects: Increases the state grant amount sliding scale basis, from 60% to 65% (New state match 65% and local match 35%)
      • For both modernization and new construction projects, the grants will be based on a districts ability to generate local funds and the percentage of low income, foster care, and English learner students.


    • Establishes four cycles annually for review of applications.
    • Prioritizes health and safety applications, such as projects addressing mold, asbestos, seismic safety, and lead in water, in the review process.
    • Establishes a separate funding program to enable school districts to test and remediate lead in drinking water outlets.
    • Allows school districts to demolish and construct a building on an existing schoolsite, if the following conditions are met:
      1. The building or buildings to be replaced are at least 50 years old.
      2. The school district provides to the department a cost-benefit analysis that indicates the total cost to modernize the building or buildings is at least 50 percent of the current replacement cost of the building or buildings. The cost-benefit analysis may include applicable site development costs.

Recognizes Hardship

    • Provides school districts affected by a disaster, such as wild fires, with immediate assistance, such as temporary facilities.
    • Increases the number of school districts eligible to receive up to 100 percent of state grants due to inability to provide a local match.
    • Establishes a process to assist small school districts in applying for funds and access of those funds.

Allowable Uses

    • Allows construction projects to include 1) preschools at school sites, 2) kitchens, and 3) space for counselors and nurses to increase support services.

Developer Fees

    • Developer Fees for Multifamily Housing: Until January 1, 2026, waives fees for multifamily housing within a ½ mile of a major transit stop. Until January 1, 2026, provides 20% reduction to multifamily housing projects in other areas.
    • Developer Level 3 fees: The Level 3 fee doubles the fees paid by developers when state bond funds are exhausted. However, Proposition 13 suspends this fee level from January 1, 2021, or whenever existing bond funds are expended, to January 1, 2028.

Sample Resolution

Schools and Local Communities First (proposed November 3, 2020)

The proponents of “The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020” have submitted a revised initiative to increase funding for K-12 public schools, community colleges, and local governments by amending the state constitution to require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on their market value. Exempted from the proposed measure would be residential properties, agriculture properties, and owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less.

This proposed measure impacts the famous measure from 1978, Proposition 13, that placed limits on property taxes equal to 1 percent of the value, plus an additional amount for pre-existing outstanding local debt. The 1978 constitutional amendment eliminated local agencies ability to issue bonds with two-thirds vote and restricted annual increases of assessed value of real property to an inflation factor, not to exceed 2 percent.

After accounting for state income tax losses related to the proposed measure, it is estimated to generate between $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion annually, with the new revenues distributed 60 percent to local governments and 40 percent to schools and community colleges.

Major Components of the Initiative

    • Threshold for market value reassessment: more than $3 million in property value
    • Education Funding:
      1. 11 percent to community colleges
      2. 89 percent to K-12 public schools, charter schools, and county offices of education
      3. Annual minimum of $100 (adjusted annually) per full-time student for all schools and colleges
    • Effective Date: January 1, 2022 and defers reassessment for small business property until the 2025-26 fiscal year
    • Small Business: The term small business must meet all of the following criteria: 1) have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees; 2) be independently owned and operated in California; and 3) owns real property located in California

Status of the Initiative

The campaign has until April 14, 2020 to gather the required 997,139 signatures to qualify for the November 3, 2020 statewide ballot. On December 3, 2019, the proponents certified that they had reached the 25 percent of required signatures, or 249,285 signatures for a constitutional amendment.

Upon receipt of the certification of the 25 percent threshold, the Secretary of State must provide copies of the proposed initiative measure and the circulating title and summary to the Senate and Assembly. Each house of the legislature is required to assign the proposed initiative measure to its appropriate committees and hold joint public hearings, at least 131 days before the date of the election at which the measure is to be voted on, in this case November 3, 2020. The legislature cannot amend the proposed measure or prevent it from appearing on the ballot.

The proposed measure has garnered support from various labor organizations and community-based organizations, but has also been met with significant opposition from various business organizations such as the California Business Roundtable, California Chamber of Commerce, and the California Taxpayers Association.

What’s Next?

This initiative is still pending circulation. We will keep you informed should it qualify for the November 3, 2020 statewide ballot.