State legislators joined Los Angeles transportation officials Friday to push for a $900 million public transit funding plan that includes raising the gas tax to boost transportation infrastructure repair dollars.
A special session on transportation called by Gov. Jerry Brown to discuss increasing funding for repairs of streets, bridges and freeways should also include talk of funding public transportation, state Sen. Ben Allen, Assemblymen Adrin Nazarian and Richard Bloom and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said during a news conference.
The legislators are pushing measures that would increase the diesel fuel tax and direct more cap-and-trade revenue toward mass transit projects, resulting in an added $900 million in funding for such projects.
SBX 1 7 and ABX 1 8, also known as the diesel sales tax bills, would hike the diesel fuel tax from 1.75 percent to 5.25 percent. This would raise another $300 million for the State Transit Assistance program that provides funding to transportation agencies. Los Angeles would get $85 million a year for public transit projects.
SBX 1 8 and ABX 1 7 would increase the amount of cap-and-trade revenue going into the “Low Carbon Operations Program” and the “Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program” to fund public transportation projects. This would double the total funding offered by these programs to $600 million.
“California needs a balanced approach to our transportation infrastructure,” Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks, said. “We can repair our existing freeways and bridges while investing in smart mass transit projects that will relieve our congested freeways.
Nazarian said dollars put into “mass transit creates tens of thousands of jobs, reduces greenhouse gases, and eases traffic.”
Allen, D-Santa Monica, said the measures generating $900 million a year for public transportation will also have the added benefit of creating nearly 50,000 jobs.
Bloom, D-Santa Monica, touted the pollution-reducing benefits of putting funding into making repairs or upgrades on “existing transit infrastructure” and said he wants to “ensure funding for transit operators and planning agencies to make repairs, maintain existing facilities and increase fuel-efficiency.”
The state is expected to face a $72 billion shortfall in its budget for transit infrastructure, the lawmakers said.
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Phillip Washington said mass transit serves as “the pressure relief valve for roads and highways, which can no longer be easily expanded.”
“Transit must be included in the mix of multi-modal transportation funding solutions to keep L.A. moving,” he said.