California SB 14 proposes bonds to fund UC, approved by state Senate

Stephanie Li/Senior Staff

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Senate Bill 14 was approved Wednesday by the California State Senate in a 33-4 vote and, if passed, will give California voters the opportunity to approve higher education bonds that will go toward facilities on UC and CSU campuses.

The bill will now head to the state Assembly for approval, according to a press release from Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda.

If passed, SB 14 will go before voters in the March 2020 primary election — the first time in more than a decade that California voters will be able to approve a bond for the UC system’s capital needs, the press release said.

Introduced by Glazer and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, SB 14 proposes the authorization of the statewide sale of $8 billion in general obligation bonds for the improvement of UC and CSU classrooms, labs and libraries. This funding would be divided equally between the UC and CSU systems, according to UC Office of the President spokesperson Sarah McBride.

In the press release, Glazer states that those who attended UC or CSU schools “gained the benefits of the education offered in their classrooms, labs and libraries.” But now, according to Glazer, those buildings have been allowed to “deteriorate, affecting our ability to educate our students.”

If approved, SB 14 would require universities or colleges to submit five-year capital outlay plans that prioritize the retrofitting necessary to reduce seismic hazards in buildings determined to be high-priority, according to the press release.

The press release also states that according to the UC and CSU systems, there is a need for more than $16 billion to fund these short-term and long-term projects.

“Many of our campuses are in need of seismic safety and renovation of aging buildings and facilities,” McBride said in an email. “Addressing these needs would lay the cornerstone of a new foundation for California higher education, allowing us to serve more students.”

SB 14 allows the burden of financing necessary safety updates to facilities to be shifted off of students and their families, according to Glazer. Without public support for the bill, students and their families may face higher tuitions or added fees, Glazer said in the press release

According to McBride, the UC “enthusiastically” supports SB 14.

“This is a crucial time for this issue, as it has been many years, since 2006, when the state last approved a bond for UC’s capital needs,” McBride said in an email. “We have received $342 million in funding for capital needs since 2011, but this is significantly less than what is required.”

Through public hearings, UC and CSU governing boards will be able to recommend spending choices for projects, Glazer said in the press release.

McBride elaborated on this in an email, saying the allocation of funds that the UC system would receive should SB 14 pass would be determined through the “capital plan strategic planning process” and through consultation with UC campuses.

“If approved, the bill would lay the foundation for the next generation of students at UC,” McBride said in an email,

Olivia Jerram is the managing editor at The Daily Californian. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @olivia_jerram.