California legislators voted in the spring of 2017 to raise the state’s gas tax for the first time in 23 years. Gov. Jerry Brown praised the decision and signed the bill, SB1, into law, ushering in $5 billion worth of revenue to pay for roads, bridges, and transit projects that would increase safety, ease congestion, and enhance mobility around the state.
Unfortunately, that watershed bill is now in jeopardy as the California Secretary of State announced Monday that a repeal effort was certified for the November 2018 ballot.
Repealing SB1 will halt progress already well underway to modernize the state’s transportation network. The evidence is clear from the before-and-after gallery that these investments are yielding results. However, if voters agree to repeal the law, all funding for future projects (planned out for the next 10 years) will go away. Cities and Counties will lose out on $26 billion, and the state highway system will lose out on another $26 billion.
Not only will improvements stop, current conditions will get worse. The law was initially passed on the cusp of a $59 billion shortfall to adequately maintain the existing state highway system in order to keep it in a basic state of good repair. Repealing SB1 will mean that shortfall is once again a reality.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has joined a broad coalition to oppose the repeal of SB1. The Coalition to Protect Local Transportation Improvements issues a news release when the measure was certified to be on the November ballot, stating in part “The measure would make our roads and bridges less safe by eliminating funding for more than 5,000 local road and bridge safety and transportation improvement projects throughout the state.”
In the fall, ASCE will release the next Report Card for California’s Infrastructure transportation grades so that voters have this information before they head to the polls or mail in their ballots.
If you live in California, educate yourself about what projects in your community are thanks to SB1 funding and share the facts with your neighbors.