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