California Leaders Unveil Major Plan for Increased Transportation Funding, Project Allocations
SACRAMENTO, CA Gov. Jerry Brown and leaders of the California Legislature announces their agreement on what the governor's office said is "a landmark transportation investment to fix our roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and put more dollars toward transit and safety."
The revenue portion of the package - which now will be put to votes in both legislative chambers - would generate an additional $5.2 billion a year over the next decade for transportation projects by raising motor fuel taxes for the first time since 1994, assessing a new fee based on a vehicle's value, levying an annual $100 fee on each electric vehicle starting in 2020 and repaying $706 million in general fund loan repayments.
"California has a massive backlog of broken infrastructure that has been neglected far too long," said Brown. "Fixing the roads will not get cheaper by waiting or ignoring the problem. This is a smart plan that will improve the quality of life in California."
The agreement calls for splitting the new funding between state and local infrastructure investments, and specifies how much money would go into certain project categories.
For instance, on the local level it would direct $15 billion over 10 years into "fix-it-first" local road repairs that include fixing potholes, $7.5 billion to improve local public transportation and $1 billion to projects that promote walking and bicycling.
For state assets it would also target $15 billion at "fix-it-first" highway repairs including pavement work, spend $4 billion on bridge and culvert repairs, direct $3 billion into improving trade corridors, aim $2.5 billion at reducing congestion on major commuter corridors and spend $1.4 billion on other transportation investments including $275 million for highway and intercity-transit needs.
Brown made the announcement joined by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon plus labor, business and other government officials. The legislative leaders said they hoped to move it through the Legislature in the coming week.
His office said the program will cost most drivers less than $10 a month and comes with strict new accountability provisions to ensure funds can only be spent on transportation. By contrast, officials emphasized that each California driver now spends about $700 a year in extra vehicle repairs caused by rough roads.
The plan calls for raising the per-gallon gasoline excise tax 12 cents a gallon on Nov. 30 plus increasing and adjusting for inflation a separate variable gasoline tax. It would increase the diesel fuel tax that is mostly used by commercial trucks by 20 cents and increasing a separate diesel sales tax.
The Sacramento Bee reported that the package "includes a constitutional amendment meant to keep lawmakers from shifting transportation revenue to other uses, something that happened frequently in the past."
The newspaper said that for an "owner of a $30,000 vehicle, who drives 13,000 miles a year at 25 miles per gallon, [the] package would cost an additional $16.80 a month at full implementation."
Senate leader de Leon said that "Californians are tired of the constant traffic jams and crumbling roads, and they expect us to find solutions. These critical investments will keep our state moving and economy growing."
Said Assembly Speaker Rendon: "We can choose to do nothing and see more deterioration, more time lost in traffic and more damage to cars, or we can choose to advance this compromise solution that fixes California's broken transportation system in a way where drivers will actually end up paying less for a better quality of life."