April 2017 Newsletter

April 26, 2017
April 2017 Newsletter




Don't fall prey to fraud. Learn how to spot and avoid scams ranging from phony home repair contractors to identity theft at the Senior Scam Stopper Seminar on Friday, April 28, from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m., at the Camden Community Center's Multipurpose Room, 3369 Union Ave, San Jose.

This free seminar is being co-sponsored by my office, Senate District 15, Assemblymember Evan Low, San Jose City Councilmember Don Rocha, and the Contractors State License Board. The meeting is open to all however, space is limited so please RSVP by phoning Assemblymember Low's office, (408) 446-2810.




Earlier this month, Senate Bill 1 received the necessary two-thirds majorities it needed in the state Senate and Assembly to reach Governor Brown's desk for his signature.

The action culminated a process that began more than two years ago when the Governor called for a special session to solve California's growing road repair crisis. Because I serve as the chairman of the Transportation Committee, it was my responsibility to find a solution to stop our roads from sinking further into deterioration.

Unless action was taken to increase funding for repairs, California potentially would have faced spending as much as eight times more in the coming years to restore heavily damaged roads. With SB 1, the state and cities will avoid up to $9.6 trillion in possible higher costs.

SB 1 paves the way for state and local governments to catch up on delayed repairs to streets, highways, and bridges. This bill generates $5.2 billion annually for transportation infrastructure maintenance to halt the growing number of repairs that threatened to engulf the budgets of cities, counties, and the state.

For Santa Clara County and its cities, the bill is projected to pump an addition $568.4 million for repairs. The county will receive an estimated $292 million. The cities will receive their separate allotments: San Jose, $238.5 million; Campbell, $9.7 million; Cupertino, $13.3 million; Los Gatos, $7.2 million; Saratoga, $6.9 million; and Monte Sereno, $800,000.

SB 1 also fights the spread of climate-changing pollution by getting more cars off the road, providing traffic congestion relief. It invests $750 million for mass transit improvements, such as extending BART to San Jose, which local Santa Clara County voters have supported on two separate ballot measures. No funds raised under SB 1 will be used for the high-speed rail project.

The bill ratchets up enforcement to compel 300,000 smog-dirty diesel trucks to meet clean air regulations, eliminating 90 tons of nitrogen oxides and three tons of toxic diesel soot per day – equivalent to removing 26 million single-passenger car from the road.

Some claim there is enough money in the general fund to pay for repairs. But their strategy called for diverting billions from schools and universities. Their scheme would have required cuts in health and human services, forcing more seniors and families into hunger, homelessness, and hospital emergency rooms.

I drafted SB 1 to expressly follow the state's "pay-as-you-go'' policy of making the users of the road responsible for maintaining it. SB 1 does that, and for the first time owners of zero-emission electric car owners will be contributing toward road maintenance.

The bill increases the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon, the first time since 1994 that it has been raised. Over the course of 23 years, the tax has lost over half its value to inflation, undercutting the purchasing power of a key revenue stream for repairs and maintenance. For the average driver, the bump in gas will amount to approximately $10 a month.

A new transportation improvement fee will be applied to every vehicle. The fee amount is based on the value of the vehicle. Eighty-seven percent of all registered vehicles fall within a $50 or less category.

Other changes also include increasing the diesel fuel tax by 20 cents per gallon and adjusting the diesel fuel sales tax by 4 percent. The revenue will help improve trade corridors, especially the routes that connect ports to inland distribution points and businesses.

Regions throughout the state are feeling SB 1's benefits. BART has put off proposed cuts in train service and ticket hikes for students, seniors, and people with disabilities. From Orange County to Monterey County, local transportation officials are saying SB 1 will enable them to start reducing their lists of "fix-it-first'' road repairs.

SB 1 is a plus to the economy, especially in regions that are still recovering from the recession. The bill has the potential to sustain 500,000 jobs that provide a middle-class salary with benefits. It also promotes pre-apprenticeship programs for people with low-incomes.

Along with my bill, I pushed for a state Constitutional Amendment that will put new revenue into a lock box to preserve its use only for transportation-related projects, such as road repair. The proposed amendment, ACA 5, will be put before voters next year.

When we invest in infrastructure the benefits are enormous: Smoother and safer roads. Efficiency. More jobs. More mobility. Faster cargo movement. A bigger and stronger California economy.