On Thursday, August 25, 2016, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) and Senator Jim Beall (D – San Jose) introduced companion bills – ABX1 26 and SBX1 1 – in the 1st Extraordinary Session to address California’s transportation funding crisis. As mentioned in a recent article, the plan includes increases to the tax on gas by 17 cents per gallon and on diesel by 30 cents per gallon, as well as a $165 annual fee on electric vehicles.
“Over the past year, I’ve worked with my colleagues, local communities and industry experts to develop an all-inclusive plan that makes necessary improvements to our transportation system. These conversations resulted in ABX1 26,” stated Frazier. “The package that Senator Jim Beall and I put forth provides vital tools to ensure California remains economically competitive. By strengthening our trade corridors and accelerating the movement of goods, this proposal keeps business in California while simultaneously creating jobs through the advancement of crucial road maintenance and enhancement projects.”
The joint proposal provides an additional $7.4 billion annually across California’s transportation system: highways, local streets, transit, bikes and pedestrians. The plan utilizes a portfolio approach in addressing a multitude of funding needs, ensuring that everyone benefitting from California’s transportation infrastructure contributes to its continual maintenance and improvement. Additionally, important systemic reforms are included to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of funds.
“Assemblymember Jim Frazier and I have met with scores of legislators and stakeholders to craft an equitable solution that calls for everyone who drives to pay their fair share toward repairing California’s crumbling roads, bridges and trade corridors,” said Senator Jim Beall, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Our plan includes bipartisan recommendations to increase efficiency and accountability to taxpayers. By choosing to repair our transportation system now, we will have smoother and safer roads, generate jobs, and also save billions of dollars in future maintenance and construction costs.’’
The breakdown of new annual funding includes $2.9 billion for state highway maintenance, $2.5 billion for the upkeep of local streets and roads, $534 million to help regions restore cuts to the State Transportation Improvement Program, $516 million for transit capital projects and operations, $900 million to enhance goods movement, $80 million for active transportation projects and up to $150 million possible through Caltrans efficiencies for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
“This new proposal demonstrates real progress in the fight to secure needed transportation funding,” stated Bob Alvarado, Executive Officer of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. “Many in the labor community are already supportive of these efforts and look forward to helping secure the success of a funding package so we can put people to work.”
Asked if he and Beall had considered reallocating current spending to pay for their plan instead of the tax increases, Frazier responded with the following:
“In most circumstances, transportation funding has always come from a user-pay system. The General Fund is an unsteady and unpredictable source of revenue with regular fluctuations, resulting in constant funding and defunding of state-run programs. Therefore, this is not an ideal candidate for transportation projects, which can take years to plan and complete. Imagine the disappointment of developing a project only to have it cancelled last minute and without warning because state revenues are down and other programs were considered more important.”
“The proposal I laid out in ABX1-26 fixes the current transportation funding structure while still following the guiding principle of a user-pay system. This new plan utilizes a portfolio approach to diversify the collection of funds, ensuring that everyone benefitting from California’s transportation system is contributing to its maintenance and overall improvement. Additionally, the plan fixes the gas tax’s current structure, ending the instability and uncertainty of available revenues. It does this by resetting the revenue source to where it was before being altered in 2010. It then indexes it to keep pace with inflation so we can be confident that its buying power will remain strong into the future.”
The 1st Extraordinary Session was called by the Governor in June of 2015. The bills have until November 30th to be taken up for a vote before the session expires. To see the complete text of the bill, please click here.
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.