CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation update 2/21/2014


CSAC Board Adopts Transportation Reauthorization Priorities

On February 20, the CSAC Board of Directors approved priorities for the Reauthorization of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21). As counties know, MAP 21 was a two-year authorization for surface transportation programs, which expires September 30, 2014. Congress completed a short-term authorization rather than the more traditional five or six-year authorization largely to provide Congress more time to explore new revenue options while the economy recovered from the recession. MAP 21 also provided for a major overhaul of transportation programs, consolidating over 100 individual programs into five core programs and increasing the eligibility and flexibility for expenditure of funds within each program. Through CSAC’s federal efforts, many of our 2008 federal priorities were implemented in MAP 21. Moreover, through our state implementation efforts, California’s counties have remained whole in terms of access to federal funds since MAP 21’s enactment.

Congress has already started informational hearings on the policy and fiscal issues under consideration for MAP 21 reauthorization. With significant programmatic and policy reforms already in place, it is the general consensus among transportation stakeholders that Congress will not enact significant policy changes. Instead, the most significant reauthorization issue is likely to be funding; specifically whether to cut federal transportation spending or increase revenues for transportation infrastructure through a gasoline excise tax increase (last increased in 1993), indexing the current excise tax, a new user fee, or another mechanism.

Accordingly, CSAC’s fundamental priority for transportation reauthorization is to address the shortfall in transportation funding. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the highway and transit accounts of the Highway Trust Fund will have insufficient revenues to meet obligations starting in federal fiscal year 2015. At the same time, inflation will continue to erode the purchasing power of the federal gas tax, and the deteriorating condition of the country’s transportation infrastructure will put upward pressure on costs. California’s counties and cities face an $82 billion funding shortfall over the next ten years for the maintenance and preservation of the local system, not including other vital modal needs. On average, pavement conditions are “at risk” and without a surge of new revenue, twenty-five percent of California’s local roads will be in failed condition by 2022. Moreover, in California, 950 bridges need replacement and over 1,800 are in need of rehabilitation. CSAC staff will return to the Board prior to taking an official position on specific revenue proposals to address the funding shortfall.

Aside from the overarching issue of total funding for transportation, other existing CSAC policies incorporated into the updated document call for increased funding for critical safety, maintenance and preservation programs; improved environmental stewardship; incentives to address climate change and rural sustainability; and improved project delivery and environmental streamlining.

CSAC’s reauthorization priorities are available online here.

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