In light of the Office of Public School Construction’s (OPSC) recent regulatory proposal to end the School Facility Program (SFP) as we know it and the Administration’s delayed sale of Proposition 51 bonds, state support for school facilities in California is in jeopardy. We appreciate the State Allocation Board’s (SAB) June 27th decision to defer action on the OPSC proposal, but we need your help to prevent the SAB from adopting it at a future meeting. We also need your help to show state decision-makers, including the Governor, Governor Candidates, and the Legislature, what funding local school construction and modernization projects means to students and local communities. The following is an update on CASH’s actions to preserve the principals of the SFP, and ensure Proposition 51 bonds are sold and projects are funded.
Today the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) hosted the first meeting to receive stakeholder input on a proposed regulation to cease accepting applications once bond authority has been exhausted. CASH wants to thank all of our members and coalition partners who attended the meeting and spoke against the proposed regulation.
Members of the CASH leadership team expressed strong opposition to the proposal. CASH Chair Don Ulrich (Clovis USD) explained that the proposed regulation would violate existing statute. Education Code Section 17070.25 clearly states that the Department of General Services “shall” be prepared to receive and act upon applications. Mr. Ulrich also requested that OPSC provide a summary of the feedback received in the stakeholder sessions at least 10 days prior to the State Allocation Board (Board) meeting at which the item will be brought back for discussion. CASH Vice Chair Julie Arthur (Palm Springs USD) challenged assertions made in OPSC’s item from the June 27, 2018 agenda, including rebuttals to arguments about inequity, future program enhancements, outdated eligibility, and expired state agency approvals. CASH Board Member Alan Reising (Long Beach USD) raised concerns about process and lack of time for stakeholder engagement, and he indicated that the proposal violates the state’s obligation to help fund school facilities.
Stakeholders provided over two hours of testimony and comments. Many expressed that the proposal left the impression that the state is uninterested in continuing to be a partner with local communities on school facilities. Themes and issues raised in this testimony included, but were not limited to, the following:
- Impacts on the ability to levy Level II developer fees
- Impacts to local bond elections
- Challenges to long-term project and financial planning, and the importance of continuity
- The lists are an expression of need
- The proposal disadvantages the types of districts (small/Financial Hardship) identified as the impetus behind the proposal
- Perceived inequities or challenges with the program may be addressed by more expeditious processing of applications
- A willingness to work in partnership with the state to address concerns with the School Facility Program (SFP).
OPSC staff indicated that they will take back and absorb the stakeholder comments, and directed attendees to the OPSC website for information about future activities on this issue. CASH encourages its members to remain actively engaged in efforts to preserve the SFP.
The full regulatory proposal can be found here.
~ Rebekah Cearley, Legislative Advocate
Today the Legislature held their last floor session before breaking for a one-month summer recess. This was the best opportunity for the Legislature to pass a bill to address the issues created by AB 195 (Obernolte) in time to protect all bonds on the November 2018 ballot. Unfortunately, neither the Senate nor Assembly took action today on a bill to give that protection. The Legislature is still exploring possible options for early August action that could help some of the November bonds.
Budget trailer bill SB 863 would provide a two-year suspension to AB 195’s provisions for local bonds, allowing time to pursue a permanent policy resolution through the regular legislative process next year. The Legislature was awaiting assurance from the Governor that he would sign SB 863 before putting the bill up for a vote. As of this morning, legislative leadership had not received that confirmation and therefore did not feel comfortable sending the bill to the Governor.
The Legislature reconvenes August 6. CASH has been clear that is too late to resolve the issue for many school districts with county filing deadlines in July.
Over the last few weeks, CASH actively worked with our coalition partners to push the Administration and Legislature to support SB 863. We want to thank our members who have been engaged in this effort. CASH will continue to work with our coalition partners to persuade the Administration to accept the needed transparency legislation.
Left uncorrected, AB 195 will have a significant chilling effect on many local bonds. AB 195 requires a local ballot measure that imposes a tax or raises the rate of a tax, including a local bond, to include on the ballot label the amount of money to be raised annually and the rate and duration of the tax to be levied. This is misleading and confusing to voters when applied to bonds, and recent polling and outcomes from the June 2018 election reflect that confusion. Many bonds see a drop in support of 10% or more when AB 195 language is added to the ballot label, pushing many below the threshold required for passage.
~ Rebekah Cearley, Legislative Advocate
The CASH Facility Planners Meeting Update for July 2018 is now available and includes information regarding:
- State Allocation Board Defers Action on Proposal to Cease Accepting Applications
- Governor Signs Budget – Bond Sale Amount and Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities Grant Program
- Legislative Update
- CASH Technical Trainings on Eligibility and Funding OPSC Forms
- Upcoming Networking Mixers
Click here to view the update.
~ CASH Staff
Today the State Allocation Board (Board) deferred action on a proposed regulation to cease accepting applications once bond authority has been exhausted. Approval of this proposal would essentially eliminate the School Facility Program (SFP) for projects outside of Proposition 51 bond authority. New Construction Proposition 51 bond authority is expected to be exhausted by October 2018, and Modernization bond authority is expected to be exhausted by September 2019.
CASH urged the Board to defer action and to thoroughly vet the proposal and its significant impacts. Chair Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez stated that she would like the proposal to come back before the Board in August 2018, and indicated that she intends to involve stakeholders in the review process.
CASH thanks all of our members who wrote or called legislators, and those who attended the Board meeting to request the deferral. It is clear that the future of the SFP is in question. This is why it is essential that CASH members and the school community participate in the discussion over the next few months. CASH will be calling on our members to directly engage in efforts to preserve the SFP.
Click here for the Item with the proposed regulation which provides more detail about the proposal. The analysis outlines the Office of Public School Construction’s concerns with maintaining a project list outside of bond authority.
~ CASH Staff