Gov. signs landmark transportation package

By REBECCA NEIPP

News Review Staff Writer

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a transportation funding package worth an estimated $52.4 billion that enacts bills passed in March by the State Senate and Assembly to increase gas taxes, as well as vehicle and license fees, to repair California’s rapidly eroding roadways and bridges.

“Safe and smooth roads make California a better place to live and strengthen our economy,” he said, adding that the legislation also creates thousands of new jobs for the work.

Democratic legislators who authored the bills in each house of the legislature praised California’s elected officials for successful passage.

The bills passed with the bare minimum number of votes mostly along party lines, with the notable exception being a senate Democrat who opposed and a senate Republican who supported — reportedly in exchange for receiving approval for $400 million in publicly funded road projects in his district.

Those in opposition include our own State Sen. Jean Fuller, who said that the state government has been collecting funds for repairs for decades, but has been spending the money instead on unrelated special projects. She added that the latest bill still fails to ensure that the state spends new tax revenues on roads.

Assemblyman Vince Fong, elected by our district last November, unveiled an alternative plan several months ago that would redirect existing tax revenues to their intended purpose without increasing taxes.

Fong has also called state officials to account for the $1 billion in taxpayer monies Brown promised to districts in exchange for support of the controversial plan. While Department of Finance bureaucrats squirmed under a recent grilling at preliminary budget hearings, no official justification for the questionably funded projects has been offered.

Story First Published: 2017-05-05