HOW LONG HAS TRANSPORTATION CALIFORNIA BEEN AROUND?
The forerunner to Transportation California was Californians for Better Transportation (CBT) which originated in the 1980’s. CBT brought together private sector firms and public agencies in a joint effort to highlight the need for greater state investment in transportation.
In 1990, Transportation California was formed as a not-for-profit 501 (c)(4) organization to support Propositions 108 and 111 which created the Transportation Blueprint for the last decade of the 20th century. Proposition 111 increased the gas tax from 9 to 18 cents, and Proposition 108 provided bonding for transit development and expansion. After a period of relative inactivity, Transportation California regrouped in 1996 to support a measure to provide monies for earthquake retrofitting.
As noted, the first effort was to help pass the Transportation Blueprint in 1990. It represented 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 has put enormous pressure on the system, and consequently on people and those who supply them with goods and services.
These pressures were clear by the mid-1990’s 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 Proposition 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 Proposition 2, a measure designed to protect the dollars in the state highway fund from diversion. It 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 turned to 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 would help expedite transportation projects. The legislation created a loan program to draw down the huge balance in the State Highway Account. It also included a “use it or lose it” provision for certain federal transportation funds. In 2000, Transportation California and others supported Proposition 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 permanently dedicates the sales tax on gasoline for transportation purposes only. In June, the voters approved the initiative with a favorable vote of %. The measure’s passage has boosted 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 Proposition 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 Arnold 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 was 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 has 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.
For the past several years, Transportation California has worked in concert with a broad coalition of labor, management, local governments, and others—known as the Fix Our Roads Coalition—to address the escalating need for greater investment in our transportation system. In 2017, a historic advance occurred when the Legislature approved SB 1 by Senator Jim Beall which will generate $5.2 billion a year to repair our deteriorating roads, highways, and bridges; replace our aging public transit fleet; expand active transportation facilities; and improve our ability to move people and goods throughout the state. Transportation California is now fully engaged in the implementation of SB 1 and defending this landmark legislation against attacks by those who seek to undo it. We know that continuing to move ahead means safer roads, greater transportation options, more jobs, a cleaner environment, and a stronger economic future.