Leaders Urge CA Legislature to Act on Transportation Funding
Saying that “it is time to stop ignoring the transportation needs of our state,” the Southern California Partnership for Jobs joined a coalition of more than four dozen economic and local government groups to urge California state lawmakers to restart talks on a transportation funding agreement before the end of November.
“Everyone in California seems to recognize that our transportation system is in terrible shape and the cost of repairs are going up each year,” said the letter, signed by 64 representatives of business, labor and government groups.
“Leaders in both parties and the governor must work together to develop a consensus approach that will provide additional funding, protect and dedicate those dollars for transportation improvements and include appropriate reforms so the money is spent in an accountable and efficient manner.”
Gov. Jerry Brown convened a special legislative session in 2015 on transportation funding needs. Negotiations, though, have failed to resolve the key sticking point: a supermajority vote is needed in both the Assembly and Senate to increase the state’s gasoline tax, a key component of plans from Gov. Brown and Democrats.
Earlier this month, Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) and Sen. Jim Beal (D-San Jose) put forward a $7.4-billion proposal that would boost the gas tax by 17 cents a gallon. That’s twice the size of Gov. Brown’s earlier $3.6-billion proposal, which calls for a 6-cent gas tax hike. Assembly Republicans offered their own plan in 2015 that relies on redirecting truck weight fees and a sizeable chunk of proceeds from the auction of greenhouse gas pollution credits.
“There is still time to act,” urged the ever-growing coalition of transportation stakeholders. While the regular legislative session adjourned for the year on Aug. 31, the Special Session on Transportation and Infrastructure Development does not expire until the end of November. That would give even termed-out lawmakers three weeks after Election Day to work on an agreement.
Frazier said he was open to calling lawmakers back in a November lame-duck session to resolve transportation funding. “If that’s what it takes,” he said. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said he’s “willing to listen” to new transportation ideas and said he’s looked at the idea of both a lame-duck session and asking newly sworn-in legislators to take action on a transportation proposal in December.