CSAC Bulletin Article

Transportation Funding Update:
Major Amendments to SBX1 1

April 29, 2016

Transportation funding remains a top priority for CSAC in 2016, so we are pleased to report that our sustained advocacy has resulting in some movement behind the scenes in the Legislature and Administration towards a bipartisan transportation funding and reform deal. On the legislative front, Senator Jim Beall introduced amendments to his substantial transportation funding proposal late last Friday, adding a number of democratic co-authors. While CSAC had hoped there would be bipartisan support due to the inclusion of a number of reform elements, Senator Beall continues negotiations with colleagues across the aisle and in the Assembly.

CSAC and our Fix Our Roads Coalition partners have continued our efforts to identify needed reforms and emphasize to all members the importance of addressing the issue now. Roads and highways need a new infusion of funding immediately, so we are advocating that the parties come together by the adoption of the FY 2016-17 State Budget in June.

To that end, the County Engineers Association of California (CEAC) has set up a lobby day to help bolster county advocacy during the CSAC Legislative Conference. Both of these events will urge action on transportation funding and raise awareness of other county infrastructure issues. CSAC and our coalition partners will also hold a transportation funding rally and press conference during the Legislative Conference from 9:45-10:30 AM on the south steps of the State Capitol. CSAC encourages members to attend each of these events if at all possible.

The following is CSAC’s summary of SB X1 1 as amended. We are still reviewing some of the technical components of the measure and we hope to reiterate our support for SB X1 1 very soon. Following our detailed review, we’ll provide templates for county support letters. 

SB X1 1, before the 4/21/16 amendments, did the following:

New Revenues:

  • Eliminate the annual price-based gas tax rate adjustment and restore it from 12.8 cents to 17.3 cents
  • Increase the gas excise tax by 12 cents per gallon
  • Increase the diesel excise tax rate by 22 cents per gallon
  • Index the gas and diesel tax rates to inflation every 3-years
  • Increase the vehicle registration fee (VRF) by $35 per year
  • Add a $100 VRF to zero emission vehicles
  • Create a new “Road Access Charge” of $35 per year
  • Repay all existing transportation general fund loans to programs they were loaned from
  • Create the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account (RMRA) and direct all but 12 cents of the diesel tax increase to the RMRA to be allocated as follows:
  • 5% State Local Partnership Program (for counties that adopt a new self-help measure)
  • 47.5% to the State Highway Operations and Protection Program
  • 47.5% to Cities and Counties for Local Streets and Roads
  • Direct the CTC to develop performance criteria for new revenues for state and local agencies and require annual reporting on local expenditures of the new revenues consistent with Prop 1B.

In addition to above provisions, SB X1 1 as amended last week do the following:

Revenues for Local Roads and State Highways:

  • Require the gas and diesel tax rates (the base gas tax and Prop 42 replacement increment), to be adjusted for increases in fuel efficiency every 3-years in addition to inflation (p. 43, 48, 59)
  • Index vehicle registration fee and Road Access Charge to inflation (p. 59, 69)
  • Return Prop. 42 replacement gas tax revenues from off-highway vehicles, boats, and agricultural vehicles, which are currently being diverted to the general fund, back to transportation [Note: this does not affect funding programs for these vehicles (e.g. OHMVR grants) receive under the base gas tax] (p. 44-46)
  • Repay all loans, but direct the repayment to the RMRA for distribution to state highways, city streets, county roads, and the state-local partnership program (currently there are approx. $800 million in outstanding loans). (p. 22)

Weight Fees:

  • Return a portion of truck weight fees to current transportation projects (p. 70)
  • Use cap and trade auction proceeds and diesel sales tax revenues to offset some current transportation bond debt service (p. 22-27)
  • Require the Department of Finance to work with the California Transportation Commission and Caltrans to develop by January 2021 a plan to return all weight fees to current transportation projects (plan must be at least partially implemented by FY 2021-22) (p. 70-71)
  • Redirect miscellaneous Caltrans revenues (lease revenues, etc.) currently used for bond debt service back to the state highway account (p. 58-59)

Environmental Streamlining:

  • Expand the AB 890 CEQA exemptions for maintenance and repair projects in the existing right-of-way to state highways and all cities and counties regardless of population until 2025 (p. 30)
  • Create a new Advanced Transportation Project Mitigation Program for the state, regions, and cities and counties (p. 33-39)
  • Make NEPA Delegation permanent (p. 61)
  • Other Reforms:
  • Create the Office of Transportation Inspector General (p. 14-16)
  • Provide that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) is an independent commission not under the California State Transportation Agency (p. 16)

Active Transportation:

  • Removes language that would have, among other things, required the state and locals to include bicycle and pedestrian safety, access and mobility improvements as part of any capital project funded with SHOPP or STIP funds. (p. 19-21)  
  • Creates division of active transportation within Caltrans that will be responsible, among other things, for implementation of the Active Transportation Program (p. 14)
  • Note that active transportation improvements in conjunction with road safety, maintenance and rehabilitation projects remain an eligible use of SBx1 1 funding (p. 62)
  • Require Caltrans to update the Highway Design Manual (HDM) to incorporate “complete streets” design concepts by 2017 (p. 14)
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