Proposition 26 will lower that requirement and make it easier to pass a
bond with only a simple majority, that is 50% plus one. Consider that in
Burbank, where as few as 6,000 people vote in an election, a decision by
3,001 people can increase the property taxes of all the homeowners in our
city. This is not a margin of safety with which I am comfortable.
You will hear media pitches that implore you to vote for Proposition
26 so schools can be fixed. They paint a picture of deplorable conditions
on campuses, almost taking on the tone of third-world misery. The truth
is, many cities have passed bonds in recent years and many districts have
modernization and rebuilding projects underway.
In Los Angeles County, recent figures show that 64% of local school
bonds have passed; in the San Francisco area, 76% have been successful.
Obviously, voters are responding positively to responsible proposals.
While proponents say the key word in Proposition 26 is accountability, I
say accountability must come first, before a bond is passed.
When a Burbank school bond failed to pass in 1994, it forced the
district to revamp its proposal and show the community all the
accountability measures up front. Consequently, specific site plans were
developed, expenditures were delineated and a community oversight
committee was formed. The need for a two-thirds vote put greater demands
on school administrators and leaders to prove not only the district's
need for money but also its ability to efficiently spend that money. Only
then did Burbank voters pass the school bond. We are all better off
because of that.
The claim by supporters of Proposition 26 that "no bond money will be
spent on administration" is a red herring because there is nothing now to
say that bond money is spent on administration. A community does not need
Proposition 26 to prohibit use of funds for salaries, administration or
operating expenses. A well-planned bond will specify expenditures and
detail their use solely for facilities.
Proposition 26's requirement of two internal audits per year is no