Assembly tackles transportation funding bill

The turmoil known as the California state budget process is moving through the Legislature and below is the latest update from Metro’s government relations team. The essence of the problem in one sentence: transit agencies are worried that the state is trying to back away from transit funding in both this year and particularly in future years.

State Budget Update

Today [Monday], the Assembly passed ABX8 6 the transportation funding bill that includes the Senate Democrat budget “tax swap” proposal. The bill does make progress in restoring transit funding by providing a one-time shot of $400 million to the State Transit Assistance (STA) program, increases the amount of sales tax on diesel to ensure a minimum of $350 million annually and could grow up to $400 million. This money is then split 75%/25% in favor of STA. The Senate proposal also provides authority to local metropolitan planning organizations to impose a fee related to SB 375. Specifically, the bill allows for transportation commission in the SCAG region to have the authority to impose the fee. The revenues generated could be used for transit, including transit operations, and pedestrian and bike improvements. The bill will now head to the Senate.
The Senate was also scheduled to vote on the tax swap today, but Leadership has delayed the vote. The vote could come as early as tomorrow. We have attached a letter regarding our position on the Senate Democrat proposal on behalf of the agency and signed by our Chairman Ara Najarian and myself. The letter has been distributed to the Legislature.

The Sacramento Bee also has good coverage of the budget situation, given that the now semi-annual smackdown takes place in their backyard. This is how they explained the gas tax situation in their story published today:

The Senate passed most of the package on Monday but had not taken up a complicated shift in the way the state taxes gasoline. In essence, the governor’s plan is to lower the overall amount drivers pay in gasoline taxes but direct more of that money to the state general fund and away from public transit. Democrats don’t want to lower gas taxes so they can preserve funding for transit agencies.

We reported here last week that Metro could lose $113 million in the next fiscal year under some of the budget scenarios being considered in Sacramento. As always, stay tuned.

Categories: Policy & Funding

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