Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

CA $15B School Bond Highlights PLAs

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Comment | More

Introduced by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, and Senator Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, in December 2018, California Assembly Bill 48 is slated to go before voters in March 2020.

The legislation features a $15 billion construction bond program that would go toward public preschool, K-12 and higher education construction and modernization projects.

About AB-48

After a series of amendments and negotiations taking place between January and September of this year, the California Assembly and State Senate passed AB-48 legislation, officially enrolling the program on the March 2020 ballot.

According to EdSource, California-based school districts have been fighting for more state funding since financials from the last state bond have been spent or committed to upcoming projects. As part of the new deal, however, the traditional “first-come, first-served” process of allocating state building assistance has come to an end.

The new system is reported to be putting smaller districts needing financial help and low-income, low-property wealth districts before others, with additional priority to districts with pressing facility needs, such as removing lead in water and reducing seismic hazards.

Following health and safety priorities, the state’s General Services Department will also look at school-based projects that have been on a waiting list for approval for more than two quarters and new construction or modernization projects that will ease overcrowding.

“This agreement signifies school facilities as a priority to the Legislature and for this Administration, which is a win for our students and our local communities that invest in school facilities,” said Eric Bakke, legislative advocate for the California School Boards Association.

“Access to the program has been difficult for many school districts, so we appreciate the reforms focused on low-wealth communities and the additional supports provided to small school districts.”

The Use of PLAs

However, reports are pointing to Section 17070.56(a)(2) of the bill, within each priority category, which says projects that use a project labor agreement will actually be given first consideration. This provision means that it is possible that certain health- and safety-related projects could be delayed because of another project’s use of a PLA.

During a September analysis of the bill, the Western Electrical Contractors Association deemed the legislature's decision to use PLAs "inappropriate."

"WECA thinks this will become a rallying cry for PLA supporters who will tout that a PLA 'increases your odds of receiving state funds,'" the organization said in its comments to legislators. "WECA is disappointed you have decided to incorporate this special interest provision in this critical funding measure. WECA suspects you did so to obtain the support of the State Building and Construction Trades Council."

The debate surrounding PLAs is nothing new; some opposed to the agreements claim that trade unions in California force developers into using PLAs with the threat of "greenmailing"—the act of tying up projects with spurious environmental protests and lawsuits—while some unions tend to support them for guaranteeing workers good wages and benefits that don't fall prey to labor brokers or exploitation.

PLAs Elsewhere

Roughly six months ago, in March, the Minnesota/North Dakota chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors sued a Minneapolis school district over what it said were unconstitutional PLAs. The chapter, which represents more than 350 firms and approximately 22,000 employees, claimed that because of the PLAs in place, companies potentially miss out on $66 million a year that the district spends on construction contracts.

The ABC has a long history of standing against PLAs, and 24 states in the country have regulations forbidding their use on public projects.

In 2017, the group applauded then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who signed into law the prohibition of PLAs on state, state-assisted or local construction projects.

Proponents of the agreements, on the other hand, say that PLAs bring a level of predictability to costs and construction timelines. They also note that PLA projects typically ensure overtime pay and make managing projects easier with everyone under one contract.

However, around 80% of private construction workers in the country have opted out of unions, and though PLAs don’t make it impossible for non-unionized professionals to work on those jobs, they do create a significant hurdle. This has resulted in cost overruns due to lack of competition, which is the biggest point of contention of those who oppose the agreements.

Breaking Down AB-48 Funding

If government approved, California's $15 billion in construction bond program funding will be allocated amongst education programs as follows:

  • $9 billion for preschools to K-12;
  • $2 billion for community colleges;
  • $2 billion for the California State University; and
  • $2 billion for the University of California.

In breaking down funding for preschools and K-12, funds will be used as follows:

  • $5.2 billion for modernization;
  • $2.8 billion for new construction;
  • $500 million for career technical education facilities; and
  • $500 million for charter schools.

Derick Lennox, an advocate representing the Small School Districts’ Association, said, “AB-48 will directly benefit small school districts and financial hardship districts—two constituencies that have the most to overcome when building schools. It’s a huge win for more than half the districts in the state.”


Tagged categories: Colleges and Universities; Construction; Funding; Government; Government contracts; Laws and litigation; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Projects - Commercial; Schools

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Axxiom Manufacturing

Sauereisen, Inc.



KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office

Tarps manufacturing, Inc.


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us