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California voters have approved Proposition 51, a $9-billion bond for school construction projects across the state.
The measure was leading 53.9% to 46.1%, according to election returns at 5 a.m. Wednesday, and the Associated Press has called the victory.
State funding to help finance repairs and new school facilities across California had run dry, and Proposition 51 will refill the pot. School construction needs billions of dollars every year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. With the new cash infusion, the state will once again match local district funding for construction projects.
Proposition 51 had a more difficult campaign than many might have expected. Critics of the measure, notably Gov. Jerry Brown, had argued that Proposition 51 unfairly prioritized larger more, affluent areas because the state handed out the money on a first-come, first-served basis to districts that already had matching funds. And public polls in the fall showed the measure not reaching majority support among voters.
But school bonds are popular. Eighty percent of local measures pass, according to the League of California Cities, and the previous four statewide school bonds were successful as well.