Beall Introduces New Transportation Infrastructure Funding Bill, SB 1

December 05, 2016

Legislation that would rejuvenate California’s aging transportation infrastructure while sustaining over 550,000 jobs was introduced today by Senator Jim Beall.

“Without action soon, our crumbling roads will severely affect California’s economy,’’ said Beall, the immediate past chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. “Long commutes affect the hiring and retention of employees, forcing more workers to leave the state. 

“There will be a point when employers will look at this and decide they’re better off doing business somewhere else. We can avoid these problems by re-investing in our roads.’’

Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León said investing in road repairs and mass transit benefits everyone in the state.

“Californians from every corner of the state demand action to fix our aging roads and transportation infrastructure,’’  de León said. “By reducing our notorious traffic congestion, improving safety, and expanding access to public transit, this measure will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of California residents.”

Senate Bill 1 proposes to pump an additional $6 billion annually into road repairs and mass transit, by readjusting the state’s obsolete gas tax and reform the user-pays system to ensure all motorists contribute their fair share to the maintenance of the roads. The revenue would be created by increases to taxes on gas, diesel, and vehicle fees.  Among them:

•        Increasing the per-gallon gas tax by 12 cents in phases over three years; 6 cents the first year to 9 cents in the second year and 12 cents in the third year. Ending Board of Equalization’s annual adjustment of the price-based per-gallon gas excise tax rate to 17.3 cents.  The two changes would raise $2.9 billion annually.

•        Increasing the diesel excise tax by 20 cents and the sales tax by 4 percent; raising $853 million in revenue annually.

•        Enacting an annual $100 fee on zero-emission vehicles and increase annual registration fee for all vehicles by $38 per vehicle, raising about $1 billion annually.

The revenue raised under SB 1 will be shared on a 50/50 basis by the state and local governments.

The bill would return $500 million in vehicle weight fees currently used for transportation debt service back to road maintenance. The revenue would be gradually returned in $100 million increments over five years.

The bill calls for speeding up the repayment of $706 million in loans made to the General Fund from various transportation-related accounts.

It also increases the Cap and Trade allocation for mass transit, doubling the current allocations for the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program.

SB 1 seeks up to $70 million in Caltrans efficiencies and reserves those savings for human-powered transportation, such as bicycle and pedestrian. 

Other reforms include creating the Office of Transportation Inspector General, an independent agency to ensure transportation funds are used efficiently and in compliance with laws. 

SB 1 has the potential to support nearly 550,000 jobs in construction, trades, and supplies. Many of the jobs will provide a middle-class salary and provide medical benefits. In addition, the bill requires the projects funded through it must engage in pre-apprenticeship programs and include low-income and disadvantaged individuals.