SACRAMENTO — Saying California needs more classrooms now, the Legislature’s Republican leaders proposed using $1 billion from a projected $10.3 billion state budget surplus for school construction.
Assembly Minority Leader Bill Campbell, R-Villa Park, said Thursday it was “very appropriate to use part of this surplus” for schools instead of waiting for voters to approve a new school construction bond measure in 2002.
The $1 billion for school construction and renovation would include $800 million that would be available to school districts agreeing to spend an equal amount.
Campbell and Senate Minority Leader Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said that would be enough to wipe out a backlog of more than 200 projects awaiting approval by the State Allocation Board.
Another $200 million would go to small school districts and charter schools that have difficulty raising construction money, and to charter schools that serve low-performing students. The Republicans also proposed:
• Giving community colleges $320 million in the coming fiscal year to bring them up to the minimum funding level required by Proposition 98 of 1988. Assemblyman Robert Pacheco, R-Walnut, said the two-year schools repeatedly have been shortchanged during the last 10 years despite the funding requirement.
• Creating an income tax credit of up to $500 to encourage Californians to contribute to a college trust fund for their children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.
• Authorizing a tax credit for employers who loan employees to teach math or science in public schools.
The credit would be equal to 50 percent of the cost of loaning the employee.
The Legislature’s budget analyst, Elizabeth Hill, predicted last month that California’s hot economy would generate an extra $10.3 billion in revenue over the next 18 months. Her projections have triggered a slew of spending proposals.
Republican leaders have scheduled a series of news conferences to discuss their suggestions.
They said last week that lawmakers should spend $710 million on jails, crime labs, law enforcement equipment and prosecution of gun-related crimes.