SB-1: Transportation Funding Legislation Approved in California

In April 2017 Governor Brown signed SB 1, known as the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (RRAA). This bill was created to address a $130 billion in deferred street, road, and highway maintenance at all levels of government in California. RRAA will provide $54 billion over the next 10 years. The new revenue is generated from the following:

  • Annual Transportation Improvement Fee ($25-$175 depends on the value of the vehicle)
  • 12 cent increase in the base gasoline excise tax
  • 11 cent increase in the diesel excise tax
  • 4 percent increase in the diesel sales tax
  • General fund loan repayments

The funding is allocated as follows:

For local agencies

  • Local streets and roads (divided equally between cities and counties)
  • Transit and Intercity Rail Program
  • State Transit Assistance program
  • State-Local Partnership Program (for self-help transportation tax counties).
  • Active Transportation Program
  • Local Planning Grants

For the state:

  • State Highway Operations and Protection Program (Hwy Maintenance)
  • Bridges and culverts
  • Congested corridors
  • Trade corridor enhancement
  • Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Freeway Service Patrol
  • Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Transportation research at the CSU and UC
  • Workforce Development Board
  • Administration

In addition, the bill includes:

  • Creation of the Office of Transportation Inspector General, whom would have audit and investigatory oversight authority over Caltrans.
  • Establishment of the State Highway Performance Plan to create measurable targets for improvements and reporting requirements to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) and the Legislature.
  • Creation of the Advanced Mitigation Program to expedite environmental permitting approval for transportation projects.
  • Increase in the CTC’s oversight of transportation project delivery.
  • Eliminates the Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP).
  • Additional detailed explanation of the transportation funding deal and city-by-city local streets and roads estimates is available here and here.

The only significant downside appears to be the elimination of the TCRP program. This program was established in 2001 and used State general funds for specific projects selected by the Governor as a part of the State budget. Many of the projects have since been completed, but several have not. The passage of the SB 1 legislation eliminates the program and all funding for it. The agency I work for lost $14.4 million dollars for the constriction phase of a project we were just getting ready to start the final design. That being said, the funds that will be added into the future to our local transportation funds through this legislation will far surpass the amount lost on one time project funding.

Some Western District Members may be wondering why this legislation is a big deal. Well, if you work in California, it will provide almost $5.5 billon dollars in funding for transportation projects. Some of that funding is good for you if you work at a local agency and need roadway repairs and complete streets projects. Some of the funding is good for you if you work for the State for similar reasons. If you work for a consultant, some of that funding will come to you via work for these local agencies and the State. However, even if you don’t live or work in California it is important because it is a significant enough increase that other states may follow suit.

The vote was a very contentious one and required almost $100 million in funding to go to specific projects in order to gain enough votes to pass with a supermajority. However, an assembly member from Orange County has filed a proposed ballot measure for the 2018 November election to overturn the legislative action. In order to make it on the ballot 365,880 registered voters would have to sign a petition. We will have to wait and see how well this sticks. In the mean time, the new funding will go to needed improvements.

Be sure to check out the website for updated legislative information for your state. If you have any questions, comments, or legislative activity you would like to highlight, let me know.


Thomas Mericle
Legislative Committee Chair