By Wes May ECA Executive Director Email: [email protected]

The massive multi-billion dollar transportation funding bill Senate Bill 1 passed both houses of the California Legislature with onevote margins April 6th and promised to provide a stable, ever-increasing base of support for highway maintenance work.

The bill is projected to raise $5.2 billion or more per year far into the future with two-thirds of the money to go to road repair based on Governor Jerry Brown’s “fix it first” infrastructure plan. The remaining third goes to non-highway public transit projects and operations, greenhouse gas abatement plans and “active transportation” projects like sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

The funding will come from a mélange of fuel tax hikes, state vehicle license fees (VLF) and sales tax increases, including:

  • 12-cents per gallon increase in the gasoline tax (will increase the gas tax base from the current $0.278 per gallon base to $0.353 effective January 1, 2019, in addition to the 12-cent hike)
  • Impose a $0.20 per gallon increase in the diesel excise tax (new excise tax collections start November 1, 2017; will be indexed to the California consumer price index guaranteeing they go up in the future.)
  • Raise the state sales tax on diesel from 1.75 percent to 5.75 percent
  • Increase VLF by $25 to $175 based on vehicle value on top of current fee
  • Add $100 annual VLF on electric vehicles model year 2020 and later in lieu of fuel taxes

The diesel excise tax won’t apply to red-dyed diesel used by off-road construction equipment but the sales tax upcharge will. Specified spending plans: (Annual amounts, not including future indexing)

  • $1.5 billion for state highway work. Already in the Governor’s 2017-18 fiscal year Caltrans budget.
  • $1.5 billion will be divided among the 58 counties and 482 municipalities, mostly for pothole repair and street resurfacing
  • $750 million for transit operations and capital improvements
  • $400 million on state highway bridge and culvert maintenance and rehabilitation
  • $300 million for high priority “freight corridors”
  • $250 million for congested corridor relief
  • $200 million to 20 Self-Help Counties (local half-cent sales tax for transportation approved)
  • $100 million for the “Active Transportation Program”—sidewalks improvements and more bike lanes
  • $25 million for the freeway service patrol program
  • $25 million for local planning grants for S.B. 375 compliance improvements
  • $7 million to California universities for “transportation research and workforce education, training and development.”
  • $5 million to the California Workforce Development agency to assist local pre-apprenticeship training programs

There’s a lot more fine print for the next issue.