August 10, 2015
It’s not just state government that faces big bills for road repairs — California cities and counties say they need tens of billions of dollars, and they want a cut of whatever new revenue is generated for maintenance work.
Along with labor and business allies, on Monday morning local officials outlined a plan to use higher taxes and fees to generate $60 billion in revenue over the next decade. The money would be split between state, city and county governments.
“I don’t think the people of California would be satisfied with a gleaming, beautiful state highway system, with broken [local] streets and roads that they can’t live with,” said Matt Cate, executive director of the California State Assn. of Counties.
Gov. Jerry Brown has called a special legislation session to focus attention on problems with California roads, and lawmakers are expected to continue working on the issue when they return from their summer recess next week.
Administration officials estimate that $59 billion is needed for state roads. An additional $78 billion is required for cities and counties, according to local officials.
The plan outlined on Monday includes many of the ideas already suggested by Democratic lawmakers, such as raising the gas tax and boosting the vehicle registration and license fees. It also incorporates a Republican proposal to use some revenue from the cap-and-trade program.
With lawmakers from both parties and the governor looking to find new ways to fund road repairs, advocates hope a deal will be struck in the coming months.
“There’s a lot more traction around this issue than we’ve seen in many years,” said Jim Earp, executive consultant at the California Alliance for Jobs, which represents construction workers and companies.