Committee Chairs Offer New Transportation Funding Bill
August 18, 2016
Senator Jim Beall and Assembly Member Jim Frazier, chairs of the Transportation Committees in their respective legislative houses, have released details and legislative language on a long-awaited compromise that could help break the logjam over transportation funding. The proposal includes new revenue to help fix crumbling streets roads and bridges, and also reforms that can help ensure the money is spent efficiently and, as intended, on transportation projects.
The Beall-Frazier package would generate $7.4 billion annually in revenue to repair and maintain state highways and local streets, roads and bridges. Some of it would come from increased taxes and fees. Some would come from redirecting state funds back to transportation—funds that had been borrowed or redirected during the recession for other priorities.
“We still have to look at all of the details in this package,” said CSAC Legislative Representative Kiana Valentine. “But so far, it looks like it lines up pretty well with the concepts the Fix Our Roads Coalition, of which CSAC is a part, has been pushing for the past two years. It includes several sources of new revenue, and common sense reforms that can help move projects through the system faster and more efficiently.”
A one-page description is available here.
Assembly Member Frazier and Senator Beall have not amended an existing vehicle(s) or introduced a new bill(s) yet, but we anticipate they will, soon. That vehicle could move through the Legislature before the end of the month when the two-year legislative session is set to adjourn. CSAC looks forward to working closely with both of them and their republican colleagues to get a transportation funding and reform package across the finish line before the end of session. While a lame duck vote in the transportation special session is plausible, CSAC thinks all the critical parts of a final deal have been identified and just need to be negotiated among leadership in the next two weeks.
“We are still doing a deeper analysis on this proposal,” said Valentine. “But this is a big step forward and as we’ve been saying, the longer it takes for the state to increase funding to fix California’s aging infrastructure, the more it’s going to cost in the long run. We know that people are already paying hidden costs due to the poor condition of California’s highways roads and bridges.”
A national transportation research organization known as TRIP released its annual report on the condition of California’s roads yesterday. It concluded that California’s roads are so congested, in such poor condition and in some cases are so unsafe, the average driver pays about $2,500 per year due to lost time, car maintenance and repairs.
“This is truly a ‘pay me now or pay me later’ issue,” said Valentine. With the new revenue represented in the Beall-Frazier package, the state and local governments can begin addressing the problems noted in the TRIP Report. With better, safer and less congested roads, the hidden costs should start to come down.”
This investment is not only about actually saving taxpayers money it is critical for our state’s economy and creating jobs in the construction industry across California.