California’s Governor Jerry Brown has released his proposed 2018 budget, and the transportation portion of the budget received a big boost from the state’s newly passed SB 1.
Gov. Brown proposed spending $4.6 billion — funds generated from SB 1’s gas taxes and vehicle fees — on repairing California’s roads and bridges and improving rail systems in the next year. The Governor’s proposed budget includes $2.8 billion of the new tax revenue to repair neighborhood roads, state highways and bridges, $556 million to improving trade and commute corridors, $200 million to match county funds on transportation projects and $721 million to improve local passenger rail and public transit systems. In all, the budget proposes $21.4 billion of transportation investments – and new revenues from SB1 are poised to fulfill a hefty one fifth of that budget.
California’s leading transportation advocacy organization TransForm praised the budget and the use of SB1 funds. Noting that the 2018 budget would invest more in public transportation, walking and biking than any previous state budget, TransForm’s Policy Director Joshua Stark said, “SB 1 funding is a monumental step in the right direction for transportation funding.”
Gov. Brown gave little weight to efforts to repeal the SB 1 levies in November, saying that “there will be a very strong opposition” to these type of initiatives. An effort by Assemblyman Travis Allen to repeal the gas tax ended in failure last week. Allen was unable to gather the 365,000 signatures needed to qualify his initiative for the November ballot.
Gov. Brown cautioned that passage of any repeal initiative would be a serious setback for the state. “It would be a blow to California’s economy. It will be a decade at least before anyone thinks of providing the necessary money for roads and bridges,” Brown said during a Capitol news conference.
Stark agreed, saying repealing the revenues from SB 1 “would throw us back to the days of upside-down budgets, persistent potholes, crumbling bridges, and outdated and infrequent trains and buses.”
Gov. Brown, who advocated for the passage of SB 1, has presided over a stark turnaround in California’s fiscal fortunes — the state’s budget has grown 45% since 2011, when he took office facing a $25 billion deficit.
Source: LA times