How long has Transportation California been around?
The leadership came together in 1990 to support Propositions 108 and 111 which created the Transportation Blueprint for the last decade of the 20th century. Prop. 111 increased the gas tax from 9 to 18 cents, and Prop. 108 provided bonding for transit development and expansion. We regrouped in 1996 to support a measure to provide monies for earthquake retrofitting. At that time, Transportation California formed as a not-for-profit 501 (c) 4 organization. Contributions we receive are tax deductible.
What has Transportation California accomplished?
The first effort was to help pass the Transportation Blueprint in 1990. If we hadn’t had that, think of the shape we’d be in today. That was the first significant attempt to address the new demands of transportation infrastructure in California since Gov. Pat Brown’s administration. As ambitious as those measures were, however, no one could have anticipated improvements in fuel efficiency that have decreased the effectiveness of the gas tax, nor could anyone have anticipated the current economic and population boom that’s putting enormous pressure on the system, and consequently on people and those who supply them with goods and services.
These pressures were pretty clear by the mid-’90s when the Northridge Earthquake shook up the funding mix. Caltrans had to use virtually all the money going into the highway fund for earthquake retrofit in Northern and Southern California — canceling or delaying projects approved in the 1990 plan.
Transportation California mobilized to the lead the fight for Prop. 192 for earthquake retrofitting. By creating separate funding for earthquake retrofitting, funds once again flowed into the state highway account for improvement and maintenance.
In 1998 we worked successfully to pass Prop. 2, a measure designed to protect the dollars in the state highway fund from diversion. This was approved by 75 percent of California voters. Now the state’s politicians are not able to raid the gas tax funds as they did during the 1990s–diverting more than $1.2 billion in badly needed transportation dollars to non-transportation purposes.
In 1999 our focus was project delivery, an emphasis that resulted from a big backlog of highway improvements that had been approved and funded, but not even started. This year-long effort also was successful. On Oct. 10, Gov. Davis signed into law AB1012, the project delivery bill that will help expedite transportation projects. The legislation creates a loan program to draw down the huge balance in the State Highway Account. It also includes a “use it or lose it” provision for certain federal transportation funds. In 2000, the coalition supported Prop. 35 which reversed the limiting trend and specifically allowed government agencies to contract out necessary design services.
In March 2002, Transportation California took the lead on Proposition 42, a measure that will permanently dedicate the sales on tax on gasoline for transportation purposes only. The measure’s passage will boost transportation funding by $1.2 to $1.5 billion annually – as much as $30 billion over the next 20 years.
And in 2005, Transportation California was asked to spearhead the Fund Prop. 42 coalition, mounting a statewide awareness campaign and working with the Administration to reverse its proposal to suspend Proposition 42, and ultimately to achieve full funding for Proposition 42 at $1.2 billion.
In 2006, Transportation California joined with the California Alliance for Jobs, Governor Schwarzenegger and Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata in the successful drive to enact and win voter approval of a comprehensive infrastructure bond package–Propositions 1A-1E. Most important to Transportation California were Proposition 1A to provide additional constitutional protections for transportation funds and Proposition 1B, which authorized $19.3 billion for vital transportation infrastructure projects.
As California confronted a series of severe fiscal crises in the first decade of the 21st Century, Transportation California has led industry and labor efforts to make the case to the Governor and Legislature for full funding of transportation programs, which are vital to the state’s economy. While State spending has undergone significant retrenchment in the past decade, existing transportation programs have more than held their own, yet they still face massive shortfalls resulting from decades of underinvestment.
Now Transportation California is tackling the job of developing significant new revenue streams that are needed to make sure our transportation system is up to meeting the needs of California’s economy and its people.