$100 Million for Transportation
California Makes Early Repayment of HUTA Loan
Counties’ and cities’ monthly allocations from the Highway Users Tax Account (HUTA) were supplemented this week though the early repayment of a $100 million state loan. HUTA is funded through the state gas excise tax, which is currently set at 36 cents per gallon. These dollars are an essential part of county transportation budgets and are used for road maintenance and rehabilitation projects, as well as local matching funds to draw down additional transportation funding.
CSAC supported the early repayment of $351 million in transportation fund borrowing throughout the development of 2014-15 budget. The loan dated from fiscal year 2010-11 and was most recently set to be repaid in 2020-21. All told, counties received just over half of the $100 million repayment to local governments, while $137 million was allocated to state highway pavement maintenance and rehabilitation, $100 million to traffic management projects, $9 million to bicycle and pedestrian projects and $5 million to environmental mitigation related to transportation projects. You’ll recall that cities and counties also split a $142 million repayment in June due to a prior error in gas tax apportionments.
The Governor deserves significant credit for proposing the early repayment of this loan, as the exponential pattern of pavement deterioration means that $100 million spent on local preservation projects today is more valuable than $100 million spent in the future. Nevertheless, counties continue to struggle to maintain local roads as inflation and an increasingly fuel-efficient vehicle fleet reduce real gas tax revenues.
The 2014 edition of the Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment, which is produced by CSAC and its local government transportation partners, recently identified a $78.3 billion shortfall to repair and maintain our local roads—a figure that has grown by nearly $7 billion in only six years.
Moving forward, CSAC has prioritized securing additional revenue for transportation infrastructure, advocating for changes that help counties make current funding stretch further, and representing county interests in conversations about the future of transportation funding, including the investigation of a mileage-based fee that could eventually replace the gas excise tax.