California’s Transportation Systems Face Several Challenges
California has a large and complex network of transportation systems that currently face several challenges. These challenges include (1) aging highways, (2) aging local roads and transit systems, (3) increased traffic congestion, (4) increased demand for transportation alternatives, and (5) increased goods movement.
There is widespread concern that current funding levels for transportation programs are insufficient to fully address these challenges.
Governor’s Proposed Transportation Funding Package
The Governor’s 2017-18 budget includes a transportation funding package that is estimated to generate an annual average increase in transportation funding of $4.2 billion over the next ten years.
This funding would come from a mix of revenue sources including a new $65 vehicle registration tax, increases to gasoline and diesel excise taxes, cap-and-trade auction revenues, and the early repayment of certain transportation loans. The revenues generated under the proposal would be distributed through a complex series of formulas in a manner that partially addresses a mix of transportation challenges.
LAO Road Map for Developing a Transportation Package
In order to assist the Legislature in its deliberations on a transportation package, we provide in the report a road map to addressing five key issues that merit legislative consideration. First, the Legislature will want to determine which specific challenges to address. We recommend that the Legislature first determine the level of shared funding for cities and counties and then make the Highway Maintenance Program its highest priority for the state’s share of new funds.
Second, it will want to determine the overall funding level needed to meet its priorities. We provide three different scenarios to illustrate what level of funding would likely be needed to meet different sets of priorities.
Next, the Legislature will want to determine how to generate the necessary revenue and consider: (1) charging users of transportation systems, (2) a mix of sources, (3) stability of sources, and (4) distinguishing between temporary and permanent sources.
The Legislature will also want to consider how funds are distributed. We recommend adopting an approach that is more simplified than that proposed by the Governor in order to allow for future growth across all priorities. Lastly, the Legislature will want to determine how new programs are administered and establish accountability measures.
We make several recommendations on these issues, including recommending that the Legislature require the California Transportation Commission to perform project-level oversight of the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) by thoroughly reviewing the proposed cost, scope, and schedule of all SHOPP projects, and allocating all funding for SHOPP projects.
This report is available using the following link: http://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3572
This article was released by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.