June 2017 Newsletter
|June 2017 Newsletter|
I have scheduled two upcoming community coffees, opportunities to meet me for a face-to-face conversation about any state-related issues that concerns you. Here are details on the coffees:
The individual meetings are on a first-come, first-served basis. Please be aware that your time with me may be limited due to the number of people who wish to speak to me. If you have a problem that involves a state agency, my staff will be accompanying me and they can assist you.
The 2017-2018 state budget adopted last week by the Legislature focuses on fiscal accountability, invests in working families, our schools, and guarantees all eligible in-state students a place in college. The new budget allows California to address its most pressing issues affecting our communities, regardless of the unpredictability of federal policies emanating from Washington, D.C.
I stand behind this balanced budget because it reflects our values and invests in people and programs that work. Here’s what it does:
SENATE BILL 1 REVISITED
Last week, I was invited by the Mineta Transportation Summit to come to the Commonwealth Club to give the keynote address about transportation funding. It was an opportunity to explain how my bill, SB 1, repairs the highways, roads, and bridges. It also provided a chance to dispel misinformation that has been spread by opponents to undermine this important legislation.
Roads are not a governmental frill. They are a necessity. Our highways, streets, and bridges bring us to our families, friends, jobs, hospitals, and shopping centers.
It is a reasonable and responsible policy to maintain roads. First, well maintained roads improve safety. Second, maintaining roads is less expensive than having to rebuild a road system that has been allowed to be damaged beyond repair. Third, an unblemished smooth road adds value to a neighborhood.
Senate Bill 1, passed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, adds $5.2 billion annually to California’s road repair budget to whittle down a $58 billion backlog in deferred maintenance on state highways, roads, and bridges. Our cities and counties have a combined $79 billion backlog; they will get half of the new annual road revenue generated by SB 1.
SB 1 ensures that everyone who uses the road will contribute to upkeep.
The bill adjusts the per-gallon gasoline excise tax by 12 cents. It institutes a new $25-$175 transportation improvement fee based on a vehicle’s value; over half of car owners will pay $50 or less. These adjustments will cost the majority of drivers about $10 or less per month.
The per-gallon tax on diesel is adjusted by 20 cents per gallon and sales tax on diesel will increase by 4 percent.
For the first time, the owners of zero-emission vehicles, such as electricity-powered cars, will contribute toward road maintenance through a $100 annual fee.
SB 1 updates the state per-gallon excise tax on gasoline, which has not been raised since 1994. Due to advancement in fuel efficiency, more vehicles are on the roads today but buying less gas than 23 year ago, severely reducing the amount of revenue collected for road maintenance.
Opponents of SB 1 claimed there was enough money in the general fund or that a bond could have been floated to pay for repairs. The truth is taking out a bond is fiscal heresy. Bonds are used for one-time capital outlay and not to support on-going expenses like maintenance.
Taking money from the general fund would require slashing funding for schools, universities, public safety, health and human services, and prisons. The net effect would be destructive to the state’s economy and state services.
The Legislature and Gov. Brown made the correct decision by adhering to the state’s “user pays’’ funding model.
No SB 1 funds have been diverted. The funds are being spent as defined under the bill and state formulas. State parks are receiving $54 million to repair the roads within them. Also, SB 1 stipulates that $5 million is reserved for workforce training to ready workers for transportation-related jobs that are created by the bill and state budget.
And, let me point out that no SB 1 money is designated for the high-speed rail project. SB 1 is designed to get “fix-it first’’ repairs completed.
SB 1 gives California the path toward repairing its aging infrastructure to keep our economy rolling.