SB1 is First Step in Bridging CA’s Critical Revenue Gap

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A new report says SB1, the $52.4 billion effort passed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature earlier this month, is “a great start” to fixing California’s roads, but it ultimately won’t provide a long-range solution for keeping the state’s roads in good shape.

The report, Beyond the Gas Tax: Funding California Transportation in the 21st Century, was released by nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank Next 10 in conjunction with Beacon Economics.

SB 1, or the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, would raise $52.4 billion over 10 years for road repairs and other transportation projects by increasing the gas tax, adjusted annually for inflation. SB 1’s author, State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said the bill “is designed to reduce the one-time cost of the road repair backlog at the state and local level.”

Next 10 says the funds raised by SB1 will help with the road repair backlog but the projected gas tax money will decrease over time with better fuel efficiency and more electric vehicles hitting the road. The nonprofit says the state needs nearly $10 billion more each year to fully address California‘s road transportation woes.

Most state roads have reached or exceeded their useful life, notes the report. “We found that more than two-thirds of California’s roads are in poor or mediocre shape, compared to a quarter of roads nationally,” said Next 10 founder F. Noel Perry.

The sum of $52.4 billion “falls short of the current $137 billion deferred maintenance deficit that has not been addressed,” the organization said. “Revenue from fuel taxes is shrinking, and the gap between what we need and what we have to spend will keep growing, despite the passage of SB 1. This bill is a great start, but the state needs to adapt its approach in order to fund our roads down the line,” Perry noted.

The state needs to find other long-term solutions to funding California’s roads, urged Perry. Potential solutions offered in the report include congestion pricing in urban areas, taxing drivers based on the number of miles driven, and building toll roads funded through public-private partnerships. But “there’s probably not a single, silver bullet” to fix the impending problem, cautions Adam Fowler, manager of public policy research at Beacon Economics.

Source: Next10 Press Release

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