While presenting these legislators with the League’s Distinguished Legislative Leadership Award at the League of California Cities® annual conference in Sacramento, League President JoAnne Mounce, Council Member from Lodi, thanked and commended them for the years of work that went into the passage of the transportation-funding package.
“As cities, no one had to tell us there was a transportation maintenance problem,” said Mounce. “But year after year, the political agreement necessary to get something done just wasn’t there, so the roads got worse. Now, thanks to the Senator and Assembly Member’s leadership our cities, counties and state can finally get to work fixing our roads. The projects these revenues support will improve the quality of life for all Californians.”
Proper maintenance is a wise investment, because it costs eight times more to rebuild a road than maintain it. Improved roads would save consumers as well, estimated to be spending $762 dollars per year in car repair bills. Yet, funding levels for street and road maintenance had eroded over time. The gas tax, which had not been increased for several decades, was not indexed for inflation. In addition, drivers are purchasing fewer gallons with expanded use of electric and hybrid vehicles and increasing fuel economy.
SB 1 (Beall) and ACA 5 (Frazier), combines dedicated funding with strong accountability measures to ensure that this investment is prioritized for maintenance and repairs and can only spent on transportation. SB 1 provides an additional $5 billion annually for the state and local transportation system. For cities, it doubles the amount of road maintenance funds they will receive to begin to fix their streets.
Sen. Beall and Assembly Member Frazier, as chairs of their respective houses’ transportation committees, championed the need to address the maintenance needs of California’s state and local transportation system. Over the course of several years, they met with stakeholders, legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown, convened legislative hearings and traveled the state for a series of regional press conferences to build awareness of the problems and support for additional investments.
Cities are currently putting the final touches on the project lists that they will be submitting to the California Transportation Commission by Oct. 16 so that they can be eligible for these funds, which will start coming to cities in January 2018. The state is fast-tracking projects and work on some state projects has already commenced. Voters will head to the polls in June 2018 to consider ACA 5, which will add the constitutional protections to the transportation funds to prevent the Legislature from using any of the new revenues for anything except road maintenance, improvement and transportation projects.
“For over two years, I worked on Senate Bill 1. Refining it. Holding hearings up and down the state while building a coalition of support to get this important bill passed. Thanks to the effective advocacy of the League of California Cities and other partners, we are now able to increase our investment in transportation infrastructure maintenance to ensure California’s highways, streets, and bridges will meet the demands of a 21st century economy,’’ said Sen. Beall.
“California’s transportation infrastructure is vital to the state’s economy and we could not afford to neglect it any longer,” said Assembly Member Frazier. “The League of California Cities was an integral part of a coalition that worked hard to get the package passed. We are already beginning to see results. Caltrans is hiring in large numbers, putting Californians to work in living-wage jobs repairing our roads, freeways and bridges across the state.”