California $2 billion proposal would reapply truck fees for roads

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/26/2015

A leading California state lawmaker wants to use certain truck fees to help pay for much-needed road work.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, recently announced her proposal to increase transportation funding to help the state address some of the $295 billion in transportation needs during the next decade.

“Six of our top 10 cities have the worst roads in the nation,” Atkins said in prepared remarks. “(The Assembly) is proposing $10 billion to be put into our roadways, bridges and overpasses during the next five years to make sure we are taking care of our infrastructure.”

Atkins’ proposal is expected to include vehicle registration fee increases for all vehicles. The new fee is estimated to raise $1.8 billion annually.

The plan would use $1 billion each year to repay transportation bond debt. The money used to pay off the debt now comes from truck weight fees.

Assemblyman Eric Linder, R-Corona, has offered a similar effort to end what he describes as a budget “gimmick” in place for five years that negatively affects the condition of roadways throughout the state. His bill is AB4.

Specifically, Atkins and Linder want to void a practice in place since 2010 to pay bond debt. Since then, state lawmakers have rerouted from the state’s highway account the vehicle weight fees paid by commercial vehicles. Instead, the lawmakers say the revenue should be applied to its intended purpose.

The other $800 million would also be applied to roads and bridges.

Another $200 million per year would be saved through accelerated repayments of loans to the state’s general fund from transportation accounts.

“This is the right proposal for the right time,” Atkins said. “We can’t wait. California’s roads and transportation infrastructure simply are not in the shape they need to be in order to keep people and goods moving.”

The proposal would need two-thirds approval by the Legislature because it is expected to include vehicle registration fee increases. Any new fee requires supermajority approval.

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