Transportation Bill Introduced in State Legislature Could Address Billions in Unmet Roads Funding

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Pothole-Sky

While we have heard this before in previous sessions, and the legislature and governor were unable to reach an agreement on a funding package, nevertheless, on the first day of the new 2017-18 legislative session, both Senator Jim Beall and Assembly Member Jim Frazier have each announced their own transportation reform and funding proposal in SB 1 and AB 1, respectively.

According to a release from the League of California Cities, “These proposals represent a continued effort by the Assembly and Senate to address the $73 billion unmet funding need for local streets and roads and $59 billion backlog to the state’s transportation infrastructure.”

These bills are not in formal print yet and there will be more comprehensive analysis forthcoming.

It was in August 2015 that a coalition of business people, builders and unions emerged to call for a special session on transportation in conjunction with the budget deal reached in late June with legislators.

At the time, the League of California Cities noted, “California’s network of roads and highways are deteriorating rapidly. In fact, California has the second highest share of roads in ‘poor condition’ nationally and 58 percent of state roads need rehabilitation or pavement maintenance. Our state is also home to four of the five cities ranked with the worst road conditions in the nation. California local streets and roads face a $78 billion shortfall in deferred maintenance, $7.8 billion annually. CalTrans faces a $59 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and $5.7 billion annual shortfall in the State Highway Operation and Protection Program.”

Jim Earp, Executive Consultant for California Alliance for Jobs, said on Monday, “We haven’t had any significant increase in funding in 20 years, which is why our roads are in such a deplorable state.”

Last year, while the governor called the legislature into special session, the political divide proved too far to cross.  The governor and the Democrats sought to increase fuel taxes and fees, but Republicans preferred to redirect existing revenue, millions of it transportation money the state diverted to other uses.

In the end, they couldn’t agree and the legislation stalled.

The Fix Our Roads Coalition believes that, without additional funding, one-quarter of the local streets and roads will be in failed condition by 2024.  And, as we know, Davis is in worse shape than many other communities.

The coalition believes, “Our state lacks adequate funding to address these critical deficiencies:  Local streets and roads face an estimated shortfall of $78 billion in deferred maintenance and an annual shortfall of $7.8 billion.  CalTrans faces a $59 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and an annual shortfall in the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) of $5.7 billion.”

They issued a statement yesterday that applauded Senator Beall and Assembly Member Frazier for their commitment to transportation funding.

“The Fix Our Roads Coalition appreciates Senator Beall’s and Assembly Member Frazier’s continued commitment to finding a funding and reform solution for California’s transportation crisis. The bills introduced today — along with the Governor’s and Legislative Leadership’s expressed commitment to ‘finally get this done’ — provide a starting point for serious negotiations early in 2017 around a final transportation funding/reform package.

“While the 2016 Legislature failed to pass a funding/reform package, we are hopeful a deal for a long-term transportation package will come together soon in the new legislative session and that 2017 will be the year the Legislature finally gets the job done.

“There is no question the state’s transportation system is declining. With little funding for maintenance of our roads and bridges our state highway system has a backlog of $59 billion, and local streets and roads has a backlog of $73 billion. The longer we wait to fix small road problems, the bigger and more expensive they become.

“According to an August 2016 report from the National Transportation Research Group (TRIP), an inadequate transportation system costs California motorists a total of $53.6 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. TRIP calculates that as an average cost of $2,826 per driver in California.

“We remain committed to working with all legislators and the Administration to pass a transportation funding package in 2017.”

Previous estimates suggest that Davis might expect about $3 million from that money.  That combined with the current $4 million in ongoing money from the general fund would at least get Davis close to the probably $10 million annually needed for roads funding.

Then again, as the last session showed, we can’t necessarily count on the state to fix this.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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25 thoughts on “Transportation Bill Introduced in State Legislature Could Address Billions in Unmet Roads Funding”

  1. Barack Palin

    I’ve got an idea.  Why doesn’t the Democrat majority scrap the money sucking useless Bullet Train to Nowhere and take those funds and repair the roads which will actually do some good for everyone?

    1. South of Davis

      BP wrote:

      > Why doesn’t the Democrat majority scrap the money sucking useless Bullet Train

      They have promised the money to the unions and heave construction firms that have been paying them bribes (aka perfectly legal campaign contributions) for years and if they want to keep the money from those groups coming they need to move forward even though they all know it is a big waste of money (and will probably never make it to the Bay Area)…

      1. Barack Palin

        Yes SOD, a lot of people are getting rich off of bilking the people to construct the Bullet Train.

        I don’t know why they call it the Bullet Train as it’s not going to be very fast at all.

      2. Alan Miller

        > Why doesn’t the Democrat majority scrap the money sucking useless Bullet Train

        Without arguing the merits in a perfect world, the simple answer is that the funds are dedicated to the project by law.

        1. Barack Palin

          I realise that, I know it passed a state vote.  I wonder if there’s anyway to change that because I know it would get rescinded if we ever had another vote now that people are seeing what a boondoggle it is.

        2. hpierce

          I wonder if there’s anyway to change that because I know it would get rescinded if we ever had another vote now that people are seeing what a boondoggle it is.

          You wonder?… you know?

          Let me assist… it is called the “initiative process”… go for it if you feel strongly about this… more productive than whining…

  2. South of Davis

    I just read something that said if the Democrats cut payments to union members, private companies that have government contracts, poor people with EBT cards and illegal aliens the only people left to vote for the Democrats would be Woody Allen fans…

        1. quielo

          Trump would need to build the wall significantly higher than already specced. Though on the positive side littering would be more enjoyable than it is currently.

  3. Misanthrop

    The interesting thing here is that the Dems have 2/3 of both houses so they can pass anything they can all agree upon. Problem is the Moderate Dems probably won’t go for a tax increase to bring the fuel tax up to parity with the inflation adjusted rates of the Pete Wilson years but you never know, we will see.

    BTW, Trump lost California by 4 million votes, more than his entire national deficit. California also has a Dem supermajority in the legislature and no Republicans elected to statewide office. Yet if you read the comments above you would think there were no Democrats in this state. Many of these comments are far outside the mainstream of California politics.

    1. Barack Palin

      Problem is the Moderate Dems probably won’t go for a tax increase to bring the fuel tax up to parity with the inflation adjusted rates of the Pete Wilson years but you never know, we will see.

      We already pretty much pay the highest fuel prices in the nation.  But you’re right, the Democrats now have a supermajority and won’t be able to blame the Republicans anymore for how they’ve been screwing up the state.

  4. Sam

    > Why doesn’t the Democrat majority scrap the money sucking useless Bullet Train

    Without arguing the merits in a perfect world, the simple answer is that the funds are dedicated to the project by law.
    Alan- The State is under no obligation to spend those funds that they have already borrowed (about $3B) nor are they obligated to borrow more money to complete the project. The only thing the State can’t do is spend the money they have already borrowed on something other than a rail project.

    Instead of wasting money on a train nobody is going to use we could spend the same money and fix all the roads in California that people actually use every day.

    So please answer my question. How and when did the State obligate itself to build a high speed rail train?

      1. Sam

        I understand that Proposition 1A allows the State to borrow money for a train, but it does not obligate anything. Or Don, can you point out something in the link that I missed?

        1. Barack Palin

          I think as voters we should take a second look at this project because it’s becoming more obvious everyday that it’s not worth the funds being injected into it.

  5. Frankly

    California is going to have to pass tax increases to pay for the roads after the Hispanic insurgent liberal legislature passes their bill to make California a sanctuary state and Trump cuts off Federal road funds.

    Meanwhile under old Moonbeam, after his tax increases and news of how California’s economy is humping, the REAL state budget deficit has soared to $400 billion.

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/California-s-400-billion-debt-worries-analysts-6812264.php

    Which leads me yet another validation of my previous epiphany that coastal liberal Democrats cannot do money math… however they are good at counting carbon molecules and incidences of hate.

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