(California) State planners cut $754 million in transportation projects

Associated Press, 19 May 2016

The California Transportation Commission has adopted more than $754 million in cuts to planned highway, transit and other projects because of falling tax revenues tied to gas prices.

The vote taken Wednesday also delays another $755 million in planned future projects.

A move made by the Legislature during the budget crisis means gas taxes are set annually by the State Board of Equalization based on fuel prices. The tax was set at 17 cents per gallon in 2010 and has now fallen to 12 cents. It will fall to less than 10 cents a gallon in July.

That’s led to billions of dollars less in revenues than planners had expected.

The affected projects range from HOV lanes in Ventura County to proposed BART station modernization in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Gov. Jerry Brown called a special session on transportation funding last year and made the issue a priority in his January State of the State address, but the issue so far has failed to gain traction in the Legislature.

Hundreds of people led by unions, business leaders and local governments held a rally outside the Legislature Thursday, calling on lawmakers to reach a funding compromise to address a $57 billion backlog in needed maintenance to state highways and bridges.

Among the proposals being floated is one that would set the gas tax at a stable, consistent rate, preventing future cuts like the $754 million vote taken this week, said CTC Chairman Bobby Alvarez in an interview at the rally.

“So if we can now create a proposal in the middle, so that if the Democrats don’t have all they want, Republicans don’t have all they want it’s called compromise,” he said. “Let’s get it done.”

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