Transportation Bill Hits No Legislative Potholes So Far
March 9, 2017
Senate Bill 1 by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) continues to move through the legislative process, clearing another committee this week. The bill, which would provide more than $6 billion a year to fix and maintain California’s crumbling roads and bridges, passed out of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Wednesday. It needs to also pass through the Senate Appropriations Committee before going to the Senate Floor.
“It is fiscally irresponsible to wait until our roads fail,” Senator Beall said at a San Jose press conference in support of his bill earlier in the week. “We can’t ignore repairs. Eventually, we have to pay.” That’s been the mantra for CSAC for the past two years as we, and the Fix Our Roads Coalition have continued to advocate for the additional funds needed. There is more than $73 billion in unmet maintenance and repair needs over the next ten years, just for the local street and roads, and almost $60 billion more in state needs.
As Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese mentioned at Monday’s press conference, significant new funding would flow to Santa Clara County under SB 1. Altogether, the county and its cities would receive more than $100 million annually — $1 billion over the next decade that they wouldn’t otherwise receive.
In addition to SB 1, Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) is carrying AB 1, which is very similar to Senator Beall’s bill, and which is also supported by CSAC and the Fix Our Roads Coalition. Both measures would allocate approximately $2.2 billion per year in additional funding for maintenance and preservation projects on local streets and roads—projects that could also include complete streets components like bike lanes and sidewalks. The Governor has a separate proposal, which allocates funding differently than the legislative bills, and which would bring significantly less revenue to the table due to its continued use of truck weight fees for transportation debt service and through comparatively smaller increases in fuel taxes. New revenues for the same local street and roads purposes under the Governor’s plan are estimated at about $1.14 billion per year. With fifty percent less revenue available to cities and counties across the state deterioration would get worse on local streets and roads.
While SB 1’s progress through the legislative process is heartening, significant work remains to develop a unified proposal that can be approved by both houses and signed before the Governor and legislative leadership’s self-imposed April 6 deadline. It is vitally important that legislators hear from counties about the dire need to invest at least $2 billion in new funding to fix local streets and roads at this critical juncture.