Prop 13 Fails Along with Nearly All Local Education Bond Measures

Written by Michael Palomba

Proposition 13, which misleadingly holds the same title as Prop 13 from 1978, has officially failed, thankfully.

The 2020 version of Prop 13 was a $15 billion bond measure for the repair and modernization of California public schools. This includes schools K-12 and colleges. It was estimated to cost about $27 billion in the end, due to interest accrued on bonds. 

That massive cost to taxpayers is the main reason for the propositions failure. With the cost of living so high already, Californians clearly are not eager to take on anymore costs. 

According to the updated vote totals, nearly 56% of San Diegans voted against it. The margin is similar statewide, with the vote difference being significant enough to declare defeat for Prop 13.

Big name supporters of the bill, like Governor Gavin Newsom, gave the loss little to no acknowledgement. 

As mentioned earlier, a big part of the reason the initiative failed is because of the massive cost to taxpayers, but that’s not the only reason. There was much debate over what the proposition would actually accomplish. Many argued over whether increased spending on things like controversial charter schools, technical education, new school construction, and unnecessary school updates was necessary.

Those in favor of the initiative attempted to shame voters for not wanting to increase the states bond debt and taxpayer expenses:

“This is sending a message to children and parents across California. It’s saying ‘We don’t care about you,” said Los Angeles teacher Debbie Garcia.

Obviously, that is not the case.

However, not everyone attempted to shame voters. Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal said, “While all the state’s taxpayers will see more of their hard-earned money go to pay off bonds if Proposition 13 passes, the real hit will be to local property owners in the form of higher property taxes.” He continued, “That’s because local school districts must pass local school bonds in order to generate the matching funds required to get any of the state bond money. Unlike state bonds, local bonds always come with a tax hike, and, in the case of school bonds, it is always a property tax.”

In addition to Prop 13, nearly all local education bond measures across San Diego County flopped. Measure L (Cajon Valley), Measure M (Chula Vista), Measure Q (Escondido), Measure R (Lakeside), and Measure P (Poway) all failed to get the 55% needed to pass.

Only Measures T and U (both in San Ysidro) will end up passing.

Taxpayers are clearly fed up with being held liable for bond debt while funds are wasted on bureaucratic nonsense, rather than solving real problems. Until funds from bonds demonstrably help students and teachers rather than unions and bureaucrats, voters should continue to strike down these proposals.

At the end of the day, the state government is becoming too comfortable with raising our taxes to throw money at problems. It’s undeniable that schools ought to be improved, but that money should be taken from one of the many examples of unnecessary spending here in California—not hardworking taxpayers.


Photo by Mike Cohen via Flickr