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John Musella: GOP urges ‘yes’ on Prop 51

Posted: September 29, 2016 4:37 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2016 8:00 a.m.
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To me, as a Republican, there isn’t anything more troubling than failing to provide for the educational needs of our children.

In California, our classrooms are falling apart. We’re asking our teachers to educate the next generation in facilities that are unsafe, outdated and overcrowded.

We’ve been talking about this problem for years. Now it’s time to act. The future of our American society is dependent on how best we raise our children and provide them with a solid education.

On Nov. 8, California voters will be staring down a very long ballot filled with candidates and propositions. One of them, Proposition 51, the California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative, will help us create a solid foundation for our children’s education.

Proposition 51 will help give our 6.2 million students in California safe schools and the keys to a quality education by:

1) Repairing and upgrading older schools: Upgraded classroom technology, science labs and libraries are essential to compete in the global economy.

2) Bringing schools up to basic health and safety standards: Retrofitting for earthquake safety, handicapped accessibility, fire safety systems, alarms, smoke detectors as well as removing asbestos and lead paint and pipes are critical for our communities.

3) Expanding offerings and relieving overcrowding: More classrooms mean smaller classes. Enhanced vocational facilities help students and veterans get the skills they need to get jobs.

The simple fact is that for every billion dollars invested in new school construction and modernization work, 13,000 jobs are created.

While a bond measure, taxes and fees are not something we as Republicans generally relish and rally behind, Proposition 51 is about providing the facilities needed for a world-class education for our students.

It allows the state to use a $9 billion bond to fund improvement and construction of school facilities for K-12 and community colleges.

Proposition 51 is supported by the California Republican Party (CRP) and many of our Republican elected officials. The CRP believes that the measure comes at a time of dire need.

Roughly 10,000 public schools are outdated and in need of reconstruction. There are many aging schools that need remodeling.

This is the first time in history the CRP has endorsed a statewide bond, which demonstrates the severity of the issue and the great need to improve our schools statewide.

Approval of the school bond is critical to protecting taxpayers, jobs, and housing affordability.

Unfortunately, the funds from the last school bond measure have been exhausted and there remains a $2 billion backlog of local school district projects that are needed to make safety repairs, complete seismic renovations, build new schools and train veterans.

It has been nearly decade since California last authorized a statewide school bond to build new neighborhood schools and upgrade older classrooms.

Our schools are in desperate need of upgrades and repairs to keep our students safe and ensure they have facilities where they can learn. We owe this to our students and veterans.

If Proposition 51 does not pass, school districts will be forced to impose massive fees on new homebuyers. Because those fees are only placed on new construction, we’ll be burdening new homebuyers with the full weight and responsibility of the entire state of California’s educational needs.

Housing affordability is already at historic lows, and creating significant fees on new construction will only make it more financially infeasible to purchase a new home.

In some areas of the state, the passage of this school bond is critical. There are major school mitigation fee increases looming on the horizon that will lead to new home communities either being delayed or completely abandoned as they will no longer be financially feasible.

These massive fees won’t just effect the availability of housing they will result in job losses and be a significant impact to the economy.

In addition, no new funding for schools would lead to higher property and parcel taxes, as well as increased housing costs for taxpayers, homeowners and renters who are already struggling with housing affordability.

Voters can rest easy knowing that Proposition 51 won’t be misused by the state of California. It contains numerous taxpayer protections and accountability measures to ensure this is a fiscally responsible bond measure.

The funds we approve on Election Day will be used for their intended purpose.

It’s time to support a solution to a better education in California. Let’s support the future of education today. Please join me in voting “yes” on Proposition 51.

John Musella was elected to the 38th Assembly District Republican Central Committee representing the Santa Clarita Valley and is chairman of Log Cabin Republicans California, the nation’s largest statewide, Republican LGBT organization.

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