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Senate Transportation Funding Proposal Moves to Next Committee

Assembly Bill to Lower Voter Threshold on Local Special Taxes for Local Transportation Projects Also Passes First Committee

April 29, 2015
Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) presented his transportation funding proposal on Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing, the committee he chairs.
 
The committee passed SB 16 after a long line of advocates for cities, counties, transportation and other groups expressed their support. The League announced its support of the proposal on April 15 when the senator released it. The bill will be heard next in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee next Wednesday, May 6.
The funding proposal is focused on the backlog of maintenance needs on the state and local system and is estimated to generate between $2.8 and $3.6 billion annually. In addition, 5 percent of the revenues would be set aside to incentivize counties currently without a local transportation funding measure to approve such a measure.
 
The senator’s testimony focused on the mounting need of California’s highways, roads and streets and he stressed how all users of the system should support it. State highways have a $59 billion backlog. The local system, in the next decade, will have a nearly $80 billion shortfall of funding to maintain our streets, roads and bridges. Sen. Beall simply stated: “We can pay now or pay a lot later.” He urged legislators to come together and approve this proposal instead of “kicking the can down the road.”
 
Several committee members expressed how they were concerned that this proposal would not provide enough funding because the need is so great.  However, the majority of the committee recognized the importance of moving the proposal so that discussions can continue.
 
In brief, the Senate’s plan would raise revenues through:
  • A 10 cent increase in the excise tax on gasoline and a 12 cent increase in the excise gas on diesel;
  • $35 Vehicle Registration Fee (VRF) increase for all vehicles;
  • A $100 VRF increase for zero-emission vehicles;
  • Payback of outstanding transportation loans over a three-year period; and
  • Truck Weight Fees would be returned to the transportation fund over a five-year period (20 percent annually. The General Fund would be backfilled by a 0.35 percent increase in the VLF over the five-year period (raised in 0.07 increments over the five-year period). 
ACA 4 — Lowering the Voter Threshold
 
On Monday, the Assembly Committee on Transportation heard and passed Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley)’s ACA 4. This League-supported measure would lower the voter threshold requirements for special taxes by a local government to provide funding for transportation projects. The threshold would be lowered from two-thirds to 55 percent. The bill now goes to the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation.
 
The League is a strong advocate for transportation funding as in the next 10 years there is a projected almost $80 billion shortfall of funding for streets and roads. ACA 4 would strengthen local control and permit local communities to move forward that address their pressing infrastructure needs.


 
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