New Session Kicks Off with Transportation Funding Bills
December 8, 2016
2016’s First Extraordinary Session on Transportation and Infrastructure Development ended last week without a vote on a comprehensive transportation funding and reform plan. The Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Senate President pro Tempore, however, committed to taking up the issue early in 2017, and the first bills introduced in each house this week were transportation proposals from Assembly Member Jim Frazier and Senator Jim Beall.
Senate Bill 1 (Beall) and Assembly Bill 1 (Frazier) are not identical, although they include many similar provisions. Both bills would result in approximately $2.4 billion in returned existing and new on-going revenue at full implementation for multi-modal investments into the local street and road system. Eligible project types under these proposals include road maintenance and rehabilitation, safety projects, railroad grade separations, and complete street components—including active transportation, pedestrian and bike safety projects, and transit facilities – as well as drainage and stormwater capture projects built in conjunction with any other allowable project. Funding from the bills could also be used as matching funds for state and federal funding programs.
Outside of the revenue provisions, the bills include strong accountability measures, including a local maintenance of effort requirement and project-level reporting to the California Transportation Commission. In terms of local project streamlining, they would both expand an existing CEQA exemption available to small cities and counties for maintenance, rehabilitation and safety projects in the existing right-of-way to all local jurisdictions and the state, and create a transportation advanced mitigation program.
As counties know, there is a dire need for immediate statewide action. Local governments have identified ten-year unmet needs of $73 billion on the local streets and roads system in addition to $59 billion in deferred maintenance on the state highway system. As roads deteriorate, they become increasingly expensive to repair. In fact, rebuilding a road completely can cost as much as twenty times more than routine maintenance that would have extended the service life of the same infrastructure.
Research by CSAC, the League of California Cities, and California’s regional transportation agencies shows that failure to invest additional funding in local system maintenance today will only increase maintenance needs in the future. Our collective local backlog will grow by $11 billion in just five years and $21 billion in a decade. SB 1 and AB 1 would make investments significant enough to improve California’s local streets and roads, and reduce future burdens on taxpayers.
CSAC staff are working on detailed analyses of both bills, including estimates of new funding available to individual counties. In the meantime, we urge counties to review these important transportation proposals and express your support for a comprehensive funding and reform package to the members of your county’s state legislative delegation.