California bill would ensure highway funding for state

| 4/12/2006

A California state lawmaker is asking for assurances that highway funds for the state will not go for other uses.

Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza, D-Carson, has offered a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would ensure state fuel taxes are spent on transportation work.

Oropeza, chairwoman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said diverting road, bridge and mass-transit funding in recent years to the state general fund breaks faith with California voters who overwhelmingly passed Proposition 42 in 2002. The proposition requires that fuel pump sales tax revenue be used solely for transportation.

However, that law allows the governor and state lawmakers to divert the money in the case of a fiscal emergency.

“It’s too easy to suspend Proposition 42,” Oropeza said in a written statement. “Our economy cannot afford to live with unstable funding.”

She said that nearly $3.5 billion has been siphoned from vital transportation programs into the state general fund since 2001. “That creates havoc for planners,” she said.

The proposed constitutional amendment – ACA11 – would eliminate the suspension provisions in Proposition 42 while allowing limited, short-term borrowing.

The proposal won unanimous approval in the Assembly Transportation Committee early this year. It has since moved to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.