Releases & Statements

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SACRAMENTO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins today announced her proposal to increase transportation infrastructure funding to improve safety and efficiency on California’s highways, bridges, and roads.

“California cannot have a strong middle class or a thriving economy if our roadways are congested and people and goods cannot move efficiently throughout the state,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “The Assembly is stepping up and proposing $10 billion for transportation infrastructure—$2 billion per year over the next 5 years—starting in 2015-16.”

The Assembly plan includes:

  • $1 billion per year by returning truck Weight Fees to transportation instead of using them to repay general obligation debt.
  • $200 million per year for transportation funding by accelerating repayment of transportation loans.
  • $800 million per year in new net funds for transportation by establishing a new Road User Charge.

“This is the right proposal at the right time. California has overcome a dangerous recession in our very recent past, the present is fiscally stable and looking stronger every day, so now we need to look ahead and help fix the future. And addressing transportation funding so we can have better, safer, and faster infrastructure is a key part of fixing the future,” said Speaker Atkins.

While the Assembly will continue to crunch the numbers as our proposal moves forward, it’s anticipated that the Road User Charge would amount to about a dollar a week for most drivers. The Road User Charge would also backfill the Truck Weight fees, allowing the $1 billion per year to be spent on transportation without meaning cuts to schools, higher education or health care.

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 has climbed 26 percent, 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.
  • Some 58% of 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.

Audio links:

Speaker Atkins delivers speech to California Transportation Foundation’s 16th Annual Forum  (10:49)

Speaker Atkins says now is the time to invest in roads, bridges, and overpasses. (:21)

Speaker Atkins says the state’s decaying and outdated infrastructure has a real impact on California families. (:30)

Speaker Atkins says tens of thousands of jobs will be created by the Assembly Democrat’s infrastructure investment plan. (:07)

Speaker Atkins says the infrastructure investment plan is about more than the construction jobs it will create. (:17)

Speaker Atkins says studies show California’s highways and roads are in need of repair. (:21)

What others are saying:

“The California Business Roundtable has a long history of supporting investment in vital infrastructure that is the foundation of a strong California economy. We are pleased to support Speaker Toni Atkins’ leadership to provide critically needed funding solutions for California’s aging streets and highways.

“In his State of the State address, the Governor called upon the Legislature to address California’s infrastructure challenges. We commend Speaker Atkins for responding to this challenge with a comprehensive transportation plan that is needed to strengthen California’s economic recovery.

“Now the real work begins. The Roundtable members look forward to supporting the Speaker and working with other legislative leaders in the months ahead,” said Rob Lapsley, President, California Business Roundtable.

“The Associated General Contractors of California (AGC), the largest statewide construction trade association, commends Speaker Toni Atkins for putting forward an aggressive proposal to fund California’s aging street and highway systems.

“With nearly all Proposition 1B bond revenues expended and gas tax revenues on a steady decline, California is facing a crisis in funding transportation at both the state and local levels,” said Tom Holsman, AGC’s Chief Executive Officer. “The Speaker’s transportation funding proposal will allow vital projects to move forward and avoid delays that otherwise would negatively impact both jobs and the economy. The proposal will generate over 190,000 direct construction jobs over the next 10 years which are vitally needed for an industry that has been hard hit by the recession,” concluded Holsman.

Said Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, “California is paying a heavy price for having underfunded highway and bridge infrastructure for decades. Years of massive budget deficits resulted in billions of transportation dollars being diverted elsewhere. California’s growing population and economy depends on the efficient movement of people and goods from our factories and ports throughout the state. Investment in repairing and re-building our roads is critical to our economy and quality of life and also creates tens of thousands of good new construction jobs.

“We need predictable and reliable revenue sources to allow for consistent investment in transportation over time. We thank the Speaker for her leadership on this important, far-sighted proposal to fix California’s transportation system and address the needs of California’s future.”

James Earp, Executive Consultant of the California Alliance for Jobs, and Mark Watts, Interim Executive Director of Transportation California, issued the following statement:

“The California Alliance for Jobs and Transportation California applauds Assembly Speaker Atkins today for taking a decisive step with her legislative proposal that begins to address critical funding for state highway system preservation and maintenance of local roadways. California has fallen off a transportation fiscal cliff that amounts to more than $59 billion in unmet needs to repair streets, roads and highways, improve unsafe roads and intersections and fix our corroding bridges.

“The Speaker’s approach is straightforward and understandable and will ensure that transportation dollars are directed to what they are intended to be used for—and would lead to the creation of 36,000 construction jobs each year and help boost our overall economy by enhancing our transportation network.

“But given the vast scope of the problem, Speaker Atkins’ proposal should be viewed as a significant starting point for the important work that must be achieved this year to identify and develop a comprehensive package of reliable revenue streams that will spread the responsibility of solving the transportation funding shortfall fairly and evenly among the many users of the system.”

CONTACT:  John Casey (916) 319-2408

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