Senate Republicans Introduce Two Measures to Fix State's Roads -- No New Taxes Necessary

Friday, June 26, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Senate Republicans introduced two measures at the opening of the governor’s special session on transportation infrastructure. SCA X1 1 (Huff, R-San Dimas), co-authored by 32 legislators, would constitutionally guarantee that the billions in transportation taxes paid annually by California drivers are used only for transportation purposes.

Also introduced was SB X1 2 (Huff), which would dedicate cap-and-trade taxes derived from putting gasoline production under the cap to improving California’s roads.

“The first step in any discussion on transportation infrastructure must be to earn back the public’s trust by ending the ongoing diversions of transportation taxes,” said Senator Huff. “Drivers are willing to pay their fair share to have quality streets and roads, but the state has a history of using those funds for other purposes. These measures simply reiterate an existing state constitutional mandate that revenues derived from taxes on transportation fuels be spent on our state’s roads, highways and bridges.”

In the last five years the state has diverted over $5 billion in weight fees paid by truckers and other transportation taxes. The most recent diversion began in 2010 to pay debt service on previously authorized transportation bonds. To date, transportation bonds are the only General Obligation bond being paid with special fund taxes rather than the general state budget.

If SCA X1 1 is passed by the Legislature and approved by voters, $1.1 billion annually would be returned to transportation projects, and any future taxes and fees would have to go to improving the state’s transportation infrastructure. If SB X1 2 is passed, $1.9 billion annually would be made available for transportation projects from the state’s cap-and trade taxes on gasoline production. The combined $3 billion in annual transportation funding could jump-start the state’s effort to repair crumbling bridges, highways and roads, and wouldn’t include any tax increase.

Last week Senate Republicans offered amendments to AB 95, the state budget trailer bill that directs transportation spending, but they were not adopted. Similar to SB X1 2, the amendments specified how revenues raised via the cap-and-trade taxes on gasoline production would be spent. View Senator Huff’s floor statement on the AB 95 amendments:

The transportation infrastructure special session was announced by Governor Brown on Tuesday, along with a separate special session on funding state health and welfare programs. Any vote on taxes requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.