Governor Gives Green Light to School Construction Bond, Signs Important CFA-Backed Legislation

Two days ago, Governor Gavin Newsom widely signaled his commitment to both the K-12 and higher education communities by signing Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell’s and Senator Steve Glazer’s AB 48, which places a $15 billion school construction bond – the largest such bond in state history – on the ballot for California voters to approve during the March 3, 2020 primary.

While the bulk of the funds – $9 billion – is intended for K-12 spending, the CSU, UC and community colleges would receive $2 billion each if voters sign off on the initiative. In a press release issued by his office, Newsom summed up the motivation behind his signing of AB 48: “This is a historic down payment for safer and healthier school buildings across every level of education, and something that will tangibly benefit millions of Californians for generations to come. Safe school buildings are critical for all our students. California voters now have the power to equitably fund school construction projects and help ensure that young Californians can go to school in a safe building.”

The AB 48 signing news came just days after the Governor acted on key legislation that CFA supported aimed at restoring integrity to college admissions and increasing scrutiny over for-profit colleges.

“Time and again Governor Newsom has shown a propensity for attacking inequity in our education system directly,” said Charles Toombs, CFA President. “Whether it is striving for much-needed additional education funding or fighting to hold bad actors accountable for manipulating students, this is a proactive Governor who will not cower from doing what’s right.”

In response to the controversial college admissions schemes plaguing several universities, including some in California, Governor Newsom signed the following bills into law:

  • AB 136 by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) prevents anyone found guilty in the admissions scandal from taking tax deductions for donations made to the charities involved.
  • AB 697 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) requires the CSU Trustees, UC Regents, and the appropriate governing bodies of each independent institution of higher education, to report to the Legislature, whether their respective institutions provide any form of preferential treatment in admissions to applicants on the basis of their relationships to donors or alumni of the institution.
  • AB 1383 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) strengthens the “admission by exception” system to require at least three campus administrators to approve admission for each applicant being considered for an exemption.

To increase accountability standards for for-profit colleges, the Governor signed the following legislation:

  • AB 1340 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) will demonstrate whether for-profit institutions are effectively preparing students for the job market by requiring the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to calculate a debt-to-income ratio for both the for-profit institution and the programs they offer.
  • AB 1344 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) increases state oversight of out-of-state institutions that enroll California students in online programs – the largest share of which are for-profit colleges. The bill strengthens consumer protections by giving the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education authority to place these institutions on a probationary status and revoke authorization to enroll California students if they do not comply.
  • AB 1346 by Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) helps students recover the true cost of their losses if their school closes while they are enrolled. It expands access to the Student Tuition Recovery Fund by allowing students to recover losses beyond tuition expenses, including housing, transportation, and child care, as well as any expenses incurred by the student as a result of the closed school, such as transcript fees or the cost of services related to debt relief.

For more information on the Governor’s recently signed education bills, please read this press release.