This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- If congressional Republicans eliminate the federal estate tax, one Sacramento lawmaker says he'll ask voters to create a state version and use the money for a variety of California programs.
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received a rock star's welcome in Los Angeles over the holiday weekend.
A proposal introduced Thursday by Democratic state senators would chip away at the billions of dollars' worth of facility upgrades at UC and Cal State campuses — if voters approve it.
The measure, by Sens. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), would authorize the sale of $2 billion in general obligation bonds specifically meant for higher education facilities. If the legislation passes, the bonds would go before the voters in the 2018 general election.
“For many generations, California taxpayers have been proud supporters of the greatest higher education system in America,” Glazer said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we have allowed classrooms and libraries to deteriorate, affecting our ability to educate our students. Without public support, the burden of financing facilities will be borne by students and their families through higher tuition and fees."
Californians approved a $9-billion school bond last year, which will go toward new construction and modernization of K-12 facilities. That bond did not include money for higher education institutions.
Under the bill, SB 483, the governing boards of the Cal State and UC systems will recommend how to spend the bond funds.
“The state has failed to provide the funds needed for public higher education faculty, student services and infrastructure,” Mel Levine, co-chairman of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, said in a statement. “We can't take in more California students without restoring and improving our classrooms and labs.”