Speaker Atkins Joins Governor Brown, Business, Labor and Local Leaders to Keep California Moving

Friday, August 21, 2015

OAKLAND—Declaring the urgent need to keep California moving, Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and a large coalition of local government officials, business leaders and transportation advocates today provided an update on the Legislature’s special session on transportation infrastructure. They emphasized the reasons why new infrastructure funding is vital to the state.

“California cannot have a strong middle class or a thriving economy if our roads are congested and people and goods aren’t moving efficiently,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “That’s why in the special session, I am hopeful we can set aside rigid ideology and consider serious proposals that provide a new, fair funding stream that benefits all California communities.”

“Doing nothing further jeopardizes the reliability of the state’s trillion-dollar transportation system, the safety of the traveling public and the state’s continued economic expansion,” says California Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly. “Democrats and Republicans have an opportunity to join together and invest in California’s transportation infrastructure – something all sides agree is necessary.”

Fixing all our roads now would cost more than $100 billion, but waiting 10 years would push the costs to nearly $300 billion. A March PPIC poll found that a majority of Californians agree with increasing funding for transportation maintenance. Every dollar invested in transportation infrastructure produces $5.20 in economic benefits, and every $1 billion that gets spent on transportation infrastructure leads to roughly 18,000 jobs.

Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), Chair of the Assembly Transportation and Infrastructure Development Committee, added, “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to create a long-term sustainable funding solution for transportation. It is my hope that together we can sculpt a plan that establishes clear performance objectives and the means to deliver transportation projects more quickly and efficiently.”

“The notion that we must make an investment to earn a return is something every employer understands. Unfortunately, when it comes to investing in what was once a world-class transportation system, California's roads now look more like a third-world country,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a Member of the California Transportation Commission. “New revenue tied to strict accountability measures is a worthwhile investment in California's future.”

Transportation funding has not kept pace with the state’s aging infrastructure. Most of the funding comes from gasoline excise taxes, which have not kept up with inflation. California collects 30 cents per gallon, a value that hasn’t increased in 25 years and, in fact, decreased by six cents in July. This means that the purchasing power of today’s excise tax is at an all-time low. Increased fuel-efficiency standards allow cars to travel more miles with less gas, also generating fewer gas-tax dollars to fix the roads.

“Our transportation network is the backbone of our economy and our quality of life. Unfortunately, it’s a system in distress,” said Rob Lapsley, President of the California Business Roundtable. “We need a comprehensive bi-partisan solution that will truly fix our transportation network for future generations. Any potential revenues must be tethered to strict accountability provisions to make sure the funding is used for transportation only.”

With 33 million registered vehicles, California has more cars on the road than any other state. And we’re traveling farther each year: Vehicle miles traveled in California have climbed 26%, from 259 billion miles traveled in 1990 to 326 billion in 2012.

According to multiple studies in recent years, California faces numerous transportation problems:

  • California has the second-highest share of roads in “poor condition” in the nation. More than half of our state roads need rehabilitation or pavement maintenance.
  • Our state has 6 of the 10 cities with the worst road conditions in the nation.
  • Nearly 1/3 of our bridges and overpasses show signs of deterioration, or do not meet design standards.
  • Nearly 70% of California’s urban roads and highways are congested.
  • The average driver faces costs of $550 per year in repairs, wear and tear, and reduced gas mileage due to poorly maintained roads.

Website of Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins: http://asmdc.org/speaker