Senate Bill 1 Repairs Roads and Drives Prosperity
SAN JOSE – Senate Bill 1’s reach will extend far beyond repairing California’s transportation infrastructure by triggering a wave of economic activity, creating new careers for thousands while also helping grow small businesses and disadvantaged business enterprises, panelists testified at a Senate Transportation and Housing Committee today.
“SB 1 invests $5.4 billion more annually for road maintenance that will sustain nearly 68,000 jobs,’’ said Senator Jim Beall, the bill author and committee chairman. “I want that money to stay in California. The road funding generated by the state must be used to help California’s workers and home-grown businesses prosper.”
SB 1 includes provisions investing $25 million to increase in pre-apprenticeship training programs, especially among women and minorities. The funding will be appropriated to the California Workforce Development Board, which is empowered to set down guidelines for public agencies receiving SB 1 funding to participate with, invest in, or partner with existing pre-apprenticeship training programs.
“We thank Sen. Beall for working with us and our affiliated unions in achieving a requirement within SB 1 that provides opportunities to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, women, minorities, veterans and the formerly incarcerated to access rewarding construction careers which lead to productive lives for them and their families,” said Cesar Diaz, Legislative and Political Director, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.
Students enrolled in pre-apprenticeship programs are exposed to a number of trades, such as welding, plumbing, electrical, or heating and ventilation, and more. After graduating, the students can enter decide which discipline they prefer and enter an apprenticeship program that will provide them with a job.
The programs provide an essential skill that can support graduates and their families throughout their lives.
“The pre-apprenticeship program allowed me to learn skills that have prepared me for employment and given my life stability,’’ said apprentice carpenter Rhonda Harper, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and a graduate of the Trades Orientation Program who testified. “Now, I’m doing much better financially than before and I get dental benefits.’’
SB 1 also calls for a concerted effort by the Department of Transportation to reach out and make to small businesses, disadvantaged business enterprises, and disabled veteran business aware of projects they can compete for. Under the bill, the department is required to develop a plan by Jan. 1, 2020, to increase by up to 100 percent the dollar value of contracts and procurements awarded to those businesses.
“Senate Bill 1 will allow more disadvantaged business enterprises and small businesses to participate in the rebuilding of California’s transportation infrastructure,’’ said Gary Parikh, principal of PARIKH Consultants, Inc., headquartered in San Jose. “Many firms are not privy to that kind of opportunity. This bill is not a handout for DBEs and small businesses – it is a helping hand to a lot of companies struggling to establish themselves and grow into a mainstream business. When they succeed, California succeeds.’’
Approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, SB 1 increases road maintenance funding by indexing gas and diesel fuel taxes for inflation. It also ensuring all users of the roads will pay their fair share toward the repair of California’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. For the majority of drivers, the per-gallon fuel adjustments and fees will cost less than $10 a month.
The revenue will be shared by the state with cities and counties. The San Jose Department of Transportation projects SB 1’s on-going appropriation will total $17.5 million annually, enabling the city to maintain about 70 additional miles.