Capitol Alert

Buy a car, help fix California’s roads

In 2011, a portion of the Highway 50 road surface was dug out and lowered 18 inches to repair one of the old barrier walls (orange safety stands sit atop the wall) which will be removed. Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are trying to make a transportation funding deal by April 6, 2017.
In 2011, a portion of the Highway 50 road surface was dug out and lowered 18 inches to repair one of the old barrier walls (orange safety stands sit atop the wall) which will be removed. Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are trying to make a transportation funding deal by April 6, 2017. rpench@sacbee.com

Assembly Republicans released a road-funding plan Monday that contains no new taxes but poses a $4.6 billion hit to the general fund, the main source of money for state programs.

The $5.6 billion package would get the bulk of its revenue from the estimated $3 billion in sales tax collected on vehicle purchases – money that currently flows into the general fund.

In addition, the plan would redirect $1.1 billion in truck weight fee revenue that now goes toward paying off past transportation borrowing. And the plan takes $550 million in vehicle insurance fee revenue away from general fund.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, and state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, have put forward similar road-funding proposals that would raise $6 billion annually. Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan, meanwhile, calls for $4.2 billion in annual spending. Those proposals include a mix of gas tax increases, raising the vehicle registration fee, and imposing other charges, which would require a two-thirds vote.

Both plans include one-time revenue. The Frazier, Beall, and Brown proposals include $706 million in repaid transportation loans. Assembly Republicans’ plan, detailed in Assembly Bill 496 by Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, would repay $2.2 billion in past loans.

Parts of Monday’s plan mirror proposals put forward in Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Bill 1. For example, it would make the California Transportation Commission its own agency, instead of being part of the State Transportation Agency, and it would create an office of transportation inspector general to scrutinize projects. And, like Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan, the GOP proposal extends the authority for public-private partnerships in road projects.

Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have set an April 6 deadline for an agreement.

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