CALCOG News: California State Budget and Federal Reauthorization Impacts on Transportation

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State Budget Snapshot

All it took to get a state budget was to assume that the state will see $4 billion more in revenue than we thought before. Easy. That equates to $2 billion in revenue for every week the Legislature did not get paid . . .

But CALCOG members will want to be aware of a few items.  First, the Gas Tax Swap deal remains in tact. Second, the governor used his line item veto authority to eliminate funding for 47.5 CalTrans positions to review impacts of local projects (PIDs) on the state highway system. He also eliminated nearly $150 M in Prop 1B appropriations to enhance local transit routes and feeder systems to high speed rail due to the lack of a comprehensive state rail plan. Also of interest to COGs with RHNA responsibility is the veto of funding for several HCD positions that review housing elements.

 

In addition, Counties were “disappointed but not disheartened” that Realignment lacks dedicated revenues and constitutional protections, and inversely, cities are fuming over the two-bill “extortion” scheme to take redevelopment revenues, which are arguably dedicated and constitutionally protected under Proposition 22.

Federal Reauthorization: Bridging a $300 Billion Gap

At a time when California is asking its MPOs and regional transportation planning agencies to do more, Congress may be planning on giving them less–significantly less. The story from Transportation Nation is that funding expectations are spiraling downward. Under the proposal unveiled by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Mica, funding for road and transit investment will be reduced by 35 percent.  See the summary or full outline.  Transportation for America has a concise summary and analysis here. In February, the Administration proposed $556 Billion investment plan over 6 years.  The Mica proposal is for $230 billion. Transportation Issues Dailyhas posted a list (developed by Democrats) that estimates losses on a state by state basis that projects a $7.2 billion loss for California. There is a Committee hearing on July 12, but no language.

 

So far, besides typical partisian criticism, much of the immediate reaction has balanced some praise for some of the streamlining with very significant concerns about funding levels. Transportation Issues Daily has summarized several key reactions here, including a somewhat surprising response from the US Chamber of Commerce arguing for more funding. For more reactions, substantive and trivial, you can search Twitter under the #hashtag: “Micabill” (for those unfamilar with the term, you can Google “hashtag;” for those unfamiliar with Google, get help!).

 

So what does this mean? Will there be a bill before Sept 30, the day in which the current authorization expires? Who knows? The DC Streetblog reports that consideration of any bill before the August recess is unlikely (its not strategic to vote on spending bill before resolution of the debt service issue).  But the National League of Cities reports that Congress is poised to take on the issue.  Hmmmm.

 

Meanwhile, Senator Boxer has proposed a two year, $109 Billion reauthorization at current funding levels (plus inflation) and claims it will save 600,000 jobs. A good explanation of both proposals can be found at the AASHTO Journal.

 

The only thing that seems certain is that the uncertainty related to these revenue streams will remain for the short term future, which has its own consequences in terms of planning and project delivery.

 

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