September 1, 2015
Sacramento – The Fix Our Roads Coalition, including cities, counties, labor, business and transportation advocates, issued the following statement today in response to on-going negotiations over a transportation funding package:
“As we enter the last two weeks of a long legislative session, we commend the governor and legislators on both sides of the aisle who have acknowledged that something must be done to make a meaningful dent in our decades-long underfunding of basic maintenance for our local and state streets, roads and highways.
“The Republicans have offered some good solutions to institute reforms to make better use of existing funds, improve oversight and streamline project costs and delivery. We hope that a compromise can be reached that offers a mix of their proposals.
“However, the simple fact remains that reforms alone are not enough to pull us out of this enormous pothole. While we sympathize with those who don’t like the notion of paying more, the reality is that current transportation funding has suffered a one-two punch that is putting our once world-class transportation system on its knees – a gas tax frozen at 1994 levels followed by technology and stricter regulation that has cleaned up emissions and vastly improved average fuel efficiency. Yes, we now benefit from cleaner air, but our roads are crumbling from annual maintenance deficits that exceed $13 billion a year.
“And that price tag does not even factor in the $760 to more than $1,000 a year in “hidden taxes” the average motorist is paying in repair bills from deteriorating roads. The hard truth is, damaged roads damage cars and threaten motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. They’re costing us all a lot of money and endangering our health and safety.
“So the question becomes, how do we fix a transportation network that 38 million Californians rely on every day, knowing that every year of delay increases the cost exponentially? Which revenue sources make sense? Which are most fair and most stable?
“History and experience has demonstrated that the fairest way to pay for transportation infrastructure is by all those who use and benefit from the system. Diversifying revenue sources ensures no one is shouldering more than their fair share. Using a variety of user-based revenue sources also helps stabilize funding of projects by not putting all our proverbial eggs in one basket.
“Relying on the General Fund to finance transportation, where it must compete every year with education, health care and the social safety net is a lose-lose proposition for both transportation and every other program. While today’s Legislature may make good on its promise to fully fund transportation, there is no guarantee future legislatures will uphold that promise, particularly in the face of the inevitable budget downturn.
“Dedicated, constitutionally protected user-fees are the smartest and most fair way to fund our transportation infrastructure and fix our roads. It is imperative that all legislators consider the steep price that continued inaction is exacting on their constituents and resolve to come together on a compromise package that includes user-based revenues and substantive reform.”
To read the seven principles supported by the Fix Our Roads coalition, go to our website here. There you can also see a list of coalition members.