Two months into the special legislative session on transportation and Senate Democrats and Republicans still don’t see eye-to-eye on a plan to fund California’s crumbling roads. In fact, they’re not even on the same freeway.
Caucus leaders this week shot down each other’s major proposals for the session, called by Gov. Jerry Brown in June to address billions of dollars’ worth of backlogged repairs to state and local roads.
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff said there was no appetite among his Republican colleagues for Democrats’ wish to raise the gas tax, which would require a two-thirds vote, and thus bipartisan support.
“It’s a little disingenuous” to ask for more money after just passing a budget that includes billions in higher revenue, he said. “Our guys aren’t willing to talk about that until we nail down the transportation funds that are currently being done and make sure that any future revenues for transportation stays in transportation,” he said.
Huff has pitched using cap-and-trade funds generated by transportation fuels for road repairs, thereby reducing greenhouse gases from idling cars, he argues.
But Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León on Wednesday said that solution is “not on the table.”
“It’s not a serious proposal,” he said. “Repairing roads...would only accelerate more road usage, and therefore, more carbon output. So it contradicts what cap-and-trade funds are for.”
Where does that leave negotiations, with a goal of wrapping up the session by Sept. 11?
“We’re still going to push forward with a robust dialogue,” de León said. “All solutions are on the table.”
Except, perhaps, the gas tax and cap-and-trade money.