Voters in two California counties will decide on transportation tax increases

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that clears the path for two California counties to increase sales taxes for transportation.

Previously AB210, the new law authorizes Alameda and Contra Costa counties to put transportation measures on their ballots to boost funding for local infrastructure.

Officials in Alameda County want to take another crack at getting voters to double the local transportation sales tax to fix potholes, improve roads and freeways, and expand public transit throughout the county.

In November 2012, an effort to permanently increase the local tax from one-half cent to one full cent was defeated despite 66.53 percent voting in favor of the change. The question fell just short of the necessary 66.67 percent threshold.

Contra Costa County voters last approved renewing their half-cent tax nearly a decade ago.

The counties cannot put transportation sales tax measures on the ballot without first getting an exemption from state lawmakers. The restriction is in place because some cities in the counties would be pushed above a local 2 percent sales tax cap set by the state.

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said the bill will allow both counties the opportunity to come up with the financing needed to improve the region’s transportation system.

“It will put people to work, help commuters, and assist with the movement of goods from the Port of Oakland,” Wieckowski said in a news release.

AB210 grants both counties the authority to exceed the local cap if voters approve an increase by Dec. 31, 2020.

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