$3-Billion School Bond Measure Approved for March Ballot

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Finally clearing the last in a string of partisan obstacles, a proposal to fund $3 billion in badly needed school repairs and construction will be placed on the March 26 statewide ballot.

Gov. Pete Wilson signed the measure this week after seven brutal hours of debate, delays and rolls calls in the Legislature.

If approved by voters, the proposal sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Campbell (D-Martinez) would be the first school construction bond issue to pass since 1992. It would authorize the sale of about $2 billion in bonds for elementary and secondary schools, and about $975 million for higher education facilities.

The legislation was stalled for months in the Assembly because of partisan bickering over whether it should be tied to bonds for prison construction. Democrats wanted the two issues to be voted on separately. Assembly Republicans finally relented and approved the school bonds last week without the prison bonds.

The legislation's travails are the latest evidence that even proposals that would have been noncontroversial a few years ago have difficulty clearing the Assembly and Senate.

"Everything has become so partisan that I would be reluctant to put in a Mother's Day resolution," said Sen. Leroy Greene (D-Carmichael), a key supporter of the bond bill.

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