LOS ANGELES - A coalition of state, local, and infrastructure groups is pushing the California Legislature to act on transportation funding quickly in 2017 after failing to reach a deal in 2016.
The Fix Our Roads Coalition, an alliance that includes the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties sent a letter Wednesday to members of the legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown urging them to continue to work on legislation to close California's estimated nearly $6 billion annual unfunded road maintenance and construction funding gap. Democrats who control the legislature appeared close to a deal with Republicans in November, but time expired before a final bill could win approval and get to Brown's desk.
"We welcomed the Governor's call to action in his January 2015 State of the State address to the new Legislature two years ago," the letter says. "We supported efforts by transportation leaders in the Senate and Assembly as they introduced transportation funding and reform measures. We applauded the convening of a special transportation session later that summer and were pleased to see the administration introduce a transportation funding plan in August of that same year. We were further heartened when the Governor introduced his funding package as part of his FY 2016-17 budget and members on both sides of the aisle continued to push legislation in response to California's transportation infrastructure needs and the necessity for increased accountability and efficiency in the conduct of the program. In spite of our high hopes for a solution, the Legislature failed to act not only in the regular session which adjourned on Aug. 31, 2016, but also took no action before the special session expired at the end of November."
Legislation introduced by Sen. Jim Beall, a San Jose Democrat who was the immediate past chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, would close that gap by increasing the per-gallon gas tax by 12 cents in phases over three years along with hiking the diesel excise tax and imposing a fee on zero emission vehicles. The bill is essentially the same as the one that nearly passed last session.
"Everyone in California seems to recognize that the state and local transportation system is in terrible shape and the longer we delay, the more it will ultimately cost to fix the problem," the coalition wrote.
"California's future is dependent on your positive engagement."