Governor Jerry Brown put one of CSAC’s highest legislative priorities front and center this week in his brief but wide-ranging state of the state address. “Ideology and politics stand in the way, but one way or another the roads must be fixed,” the Governor said, acknowledging $77 billion in deferred maintenance to California’s infrastructure, most of that in State-owned highways and bridges. And that doesn’t include the deferred maintenance on the local system that stands at $78 billion over the next decade.
“It’s gratifying to see the Governor place this issue high on his list of priorities,” said CSAC’s Executive Director Matt Cate. “We have been working with a coalition of local government, labor and business organizations and we all agree that fixing our crumbling infrastructure is imperative to Californians’ safety and mobility—not just for cars, but also for the bicycles, pedestrians and buses that primarily depend on the local system. Fixing our roads will make them safer, reduce maintenance costs for drivers and also create jobs and bolster the economy.”
The Governor also agreed with CSAC that the current method for funding highway, road and bridge maintenance, based mainly on gasoline taxes, has not kept up with the need. “We have no choice but to maintain our transportation infrastructure. Yet, doing so without an expanded and permanent revenue source is impossible. That means at some point, sooner rather than later, we have to bite the bullet and enact new fees and taxes for this purpose.” CSAC also supports reforms and efficiencies in how we deliver projects, but that alone will not create sufficient cost savings to address the deferred maintenance shortfall we have today.
The Governor included an additional $3 billion in spending for roads and bridges in his January Budget proposal. Further, there are legislative proposals that address the issue by providing a higher level of funding—closer to $6 billion, which is the amount necessary to actually show improvement on our freeways, county highways and city streets. “We are committed to working with the Governor and Legislature to find a workable solution to this issue,” said Cate. “As I’ve said before, "we can't kick the can down the road anymore because it will land in a pothole."
The Governor also touched on several other topics, including California’s unstable revenue situation and the need for continued fiscal prudence; healthcare, and the need to reform Managed Care Organization (MCO) revenue; water, climate change and income inequality. You can see a transcript of the Governor’s State of the State Address here.