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College Bonds: Yes on 78

Proposition 78, the first state proposition on the Nov. 8 ballot, is a two-year, $600-million general-obligation bond issue for construction and renovation projects on University of California, state university and community college campuses. It is important statewide, but is particularly important in Orange County because so many campuses here will benefit if the measure is approved.

It must pass. The need for money to expand campus facilities is especially great in fast-growing Orange County. UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach all need new buildings, classrooms, libraries and laboratories, as do the eight community colleges in the county.

Campus expansion hasn’t kept pace with growth. If Orange County campuses continue to lose ground, they may not be able to admit all of the growing number of students seeking entry.

Among the Orange County projects to be financed with Proposition 78 funds are: equipping the Physical Sciences Unit 2 now under construction at UCI, renovating the Biological Science and Physical Science buildings, at a combined cost of $29.5 million, and improving roads.

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Cal State Fullerton would receive $3.3 million for a Science Building addition and Engineering Building equipment, and Cal State Long Beach would get $13.7 million the first year for a School of Business building and $17.2 million in second-year bond money for a library addition and other projects. Irvine Valley College would get $9.1 million for a student-services center, physical-education facilities, and a child-development/care center, and another $6.8 million is earmarked for permanent buildings and relocating the Chapman Avenue entrance at the Rancho Santiago Community College District’s Orange Campus. In all, Orange County campuses would get about $92 million of the bond money.

The estimated cost of repaying the bonds over their 20-year life is $2 per county resident per year. That’s a small price to pay for keeping California’s university and college campuses open and equipped for the students clamoring for the education that the state guarantees it will provide.

Until recently, capital improvements on state campuses were paid for out of royalties from oil and natural-gas production on state-owned tidelands. Those funds dried up when oil prices plummeted, forcing the state to turn to general-obligation bonds to make up for the loss.

So far the funding alternative has met with voter approval, and Proposition 78 should be no exception. We urge a Yes vote on Proposition 78.

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