Governor Reintroduces Transportation Funding Package; New Assembly Proposal Unveiled
January 8, 2016
The Governor released his 2016-17 budget proposal yesterday, which included a reintroduction of the Administration’s September 2015 transportation funding and reform package . The proposal would spend an additional $3.6 billion annually for ten years on maintenance and rehabilitation of state and local transportation systems and investments in transit. At the same time, the Governor reemphasized his concern for the state General Fund, including avoiding any solutions to transportation funding that would impact the General Fund (read: transferring truck weight fees back to transportation projects from their current use to pay bond debt service – a key Republican ask in both houses).
Since the CSAC Annual Meeting, we have been given a glimmer of hope with respect to finding a new, robust transportation funding solution in 2016. At the time of this writing, we understand the chairman of the Transportation Conference Committee, Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez is working diligently with his legislative colleagues to find a compromise and that Senator Jim Beall is working with his caucus and Republican colleagues on revisions to his existing $4.5 billion proposal. Moreover, Assembly Member Jim Frazier introduced AB 1591 Wednesday, a nearly $8 billion funding plan.
CSAC remains committed to finding points of consensus to bring all parties together on a final package that is robust enough to not only stop the decline of our freeway and street and road conditions, but also result in actual improvements. Finally, while General Fund budget surpluses have continued, low gas prices have meant continued deterioration of funding available for local street and road maintenance. CSAC will also advocate for an administrative fix the price-based excise tax rate-setting process to avoid an additional decrease of over 2 cents and ensure greater stability in the future.
SCA 7 (Huff) – Support in Concept
SCA 7, by Senator Bob Huff, would amend the state constitution to devote certain motor vehicle fees and taxes to transportation purposes. Cities and counties have documented $78 billion ten-year shortfall in funding needed to maintain California’s local streets and roads, including essential components like sidewalks, bike lanes and storm drainage infrastructure. The local system comprises over 80% of California’s road mileage and is an important component of mobility for both vehicles, as well as transit buses, bicycles and pedestrians that also use this right-of-way.
CSAC supports protecting any new revenues raised as part of the ongoing special session on transportation infrastructure. We support SCA 7 in concept and are working with the legislators ensure that placing restrictions on vehicle license fees (or other user fees that might ultimately be included in a new funding plan), which have traditionally funded a broad array of general local government services, does not result in any unintended consequences for counties or the constituents they serve.
SCA 7 is set for hearing before the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on January 12.