Groups that oversee government bond spending could stand to grow some teeth, according to a new report.
Since 2000, local bond measures that pay for school construction require only 55 percent local voter approval, instead of two-thirds. With that change came a new requirement that a citizen watchdog group monitor bond expenses to ensure projects promised were built.
Other governments also turn to citizen groups to police voter-approved bonds that pay for things like roads and transit.
In 2016 alone, Californians approved local school bond measurers totaling $28 billion, plus another $7.2 billion in local government debt for other public projects, according to a report released Tuesday by the Little Hoover Commission, a state entity that provides independent government oversight. The commission suggests Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature “should update and overhaul” the state law that created the bond oversight groups to clarify their authority.
The oversight groups, “By and large … have proven ineffective and some committee members have told the Commission that is at least in part, by design,” wrote the Little Hoover Commission. “Most of the concerns revolved around bond oversight committee members who lack training, have conflicts of interest, either real or perceived, and the difficulty committee members have receiving required documents from the districts.”
Those same issues have surfaced in San Diego County, where some appointees represent workers building bond projects and others get paid to lobby the very government officials they oversee.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
At least for schools, bonds are known as "back door referendums" used in lieu of tax increases. It's best if taxpayers don't know the exact mechanism of how they work or the ultimate outcome of the money.
The school bond program is a huge success, workers refusing to pay union dues can't step foot on any bond funded school construction project. Hundreds of local state approved construction apprentices are denied opportunity on school construction work for the sole reason they are not union apprentices. The school district, through their Project Labor Agreement WILL allow non union contractors to work IF they use union workers. Nothing like having a contractor promise to do a certain amount of work in a certain time period then introduce his / her workforce to him / her the day the job starts.
That traffic you see on South bound 5 & 15, union halls in LA. and Northern California emptying out to fill local San Diego jobs. Strange how a supposedly "better trained union workforce" needs the ability to compete legislated through backroom deals. Most of the union workers I know feel they can compete without union monopoly labor deals, I guess union bosses aren't as confident.