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Calif. Voters Back Bond For Facilities

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California voters last week signed off on a $3 billion state bond issue to pay for construction of K-12 and higher education facilities.

Nearly two out of every three voters approved the initiative, the largest victory for a school bond initiative in the state since 1988. More than 5.2 million votes were cast, according to unofficial returns from the state's March 26 presidential primary.

About $2 billion of the proceeds from the bond sale will go to K-12 schools. State officials estimate that K-12 construction needs top $11 billion.

Although voters traditionally have approved at least one statewide school-construction bond issue every two years, a $1 billion initiative was defeated in 1994.

Political analysts said that the state's rebounding economy and a relatively low voter turnout helped the bond issue pass.

School officials feared that the Republican presidential primary would turn out large numbers of voters opposed to big expenditures by government, but GOP frontrunner Bob Dole entered the state's primary with the race essentially won.

"Some people were concerned that a vigorous Republican campaign could have negatively affected the vote," said Larry Tramutola, an Oakland, Calif.-based political consultant who advises school districts on bond campaigns. "But that didn't happen."

Only a handful of districts put their own construction bond issues on the ballot; an early tally suggested that most of them were also approved easily. Initiatives passed in the districts of Encinitas, Piedmont, San Bruno Park, and Westwood by at least 70 percent.

--Drew Lindsay

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