Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

Gov. gives Bay Area voters chance to increase bridge tolls by $3 to fund transportation on next year’s ballot

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

The setting sun reflects off of the Carquinez Bridge’s towers. This bridge project was funded through Regional Measure 1. Photo courtesy of MTC.

Some of the $4.5 billion in projects would benefit Antioch, East County

By Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Governor Brown’s action today to sign into law Senate Bill 595 clears the way for Bay Area voters to decide – potentially as early as next June – on Regional Measure 3 (RM 3), which would raise tolls by up to $3 on the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges to finance the sweeping $4.5 billion package of congestion relief and mobility improvement projects identified in the bill. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), in its role as the Bay Area Toll Authority, is expected to decide by early 2018 when the RM 3 question will appear on ballots in the nine Bay Area counties. The Commission also will decide the amount of the proposed toll increase and whether the proposed increase would be instituted all at once or phased in over several years.

The RM 3 expenditure plan provides mobility improvements in each of the region’s seven state- owned bridge corridors, helping to speed up commutes and provide better travel options, particularly for those traveling to major job hubs, such as San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The plan includes numerous congestion relief projects in the bridge corridors, including new express lanes, a direct freeway connector from northbound U.S. 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 in Marin County to improve access to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge as well as improvements to the westbound approach in Contra Costa County; constructing a direct connector between Interstates 680 and 880 in Fremont and improvements to the I-680/State Route 84 interchange in Alameda County serving the Dumbarton Bridge; upgrading the I-680/State Route 4 interchange in Contra Costa County serving the Benicia Bridge corridor and the U.S. 101/State Route 92 interchange in San Mateo serving the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge; various improvements to relieve congestion in the Dumbarton Bridge corridor and improve State Route 37 in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties; completing the widening of U.S. 101 to three lanes in each direction through the Marin-Sonoma Narrows. Major public transit improvements that would be funded by the measure include 306 new BART cars that will expand the fleet to accommodate record ridership; new ferries and expanded service and terminals across San Francisco Bay; further extension of BART’s Silicon Valley service to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara; extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco; expanding transbay bus service and AC Transit’s bus rapid transit lines serving the transbay corridor; extending the new SMART rail system to Windsor; and expanding San Francisco’s fleet of Muni Metro rail cars to improve transit access not just to San Francisco, but within it as well. RM 3 also would fund a $150 million grant program to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to regional transit hubs and to close gaps in the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Proposed projects that would benefit Contra Costa County, Antioch and East County.

“Nobody likes higher tolls,” commented MTC Chair and Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie. “But nobody likes traffic jams or crush-loaded train cars either. The Bay Area has been blessed by seven straight years of strong economic growth. But the price we’ve paid is the growing congestion on our freeways, railways and ferries. If our region is going to maintain its economic leadership, we have to invest in projects that will keep businesses and their workers moving. Gov. Brown and the state Legislature deserve a lot of credit for shaping RM 3 into a comprehensive and integrated strategy that will modernize both our highways and our transit networks.”

For details on the complete range of investments that would be funded if a majority of voters in the nine Bay Area counties approve RM 3, go to the MTC website or see the complete list, here.

MTC is the transportation planning, financing, and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

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Frazier votes ‘no’ on proposed bridge toll hikes

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) voted ‘no’ on SB 595, which would require the nine Bay Area counties to hold a special election, known as Regional Measure 3, to propose raising tolls on state-owned bridges in the Bay Area. After the vote, he issued the following statement:

“I recognize the need for funding transportation improvements, but after much thought, I believe adding another tax on commuters is not the answer. I ultimately voted NO on the bridge toll bill because $8 per crossing is just too much of a financial burden on drivers. If you commute from Solano County to San Francisco – entailing two bridge tolls that would potentially total $16 a day – that’s highway robbery.”

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Frazier touts hard work paying off as transportation bill, gas tax increase he co-authored, passes

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) led his colleagues today, Friday, April 7, 2017 in passing Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 with the required two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and Senate. SB 1 now heads to the Governor for his approval and ACA 5 will head to the voters for their approval.

“Our roads are terrible, costing each person at least $760 in repairs, and the state was really just putting a Band-aid on a broken bone,” he said. “After two years of discussions and negotiations, passing SB 1 today is a testament to efforts to build a remarkable and diverse coalition to improve our transportation system that truly benefits everyone.”

SB 1 will resolve the long-term shortfall in transportation funding by provide new funding to make necessary road safety improvements and repair local streets, freeways, bridges, and overpasses. New revenues will generate on average $5 billion per year to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of transportation maintenance throughout the state. Roughly $3 billion annually will be allocated to fix roads, half of which will be directly allocated for local needs. The remaining $2 billion is split among other transportation-related programs.

Revenue sources for SB 1 include a 12 cent per gallon gas excise tax, ending the annual Board of Equalization adjustment, a 20 cent diesel excise tax, a 4% diesel sales tax increase, a per vehicle transportation improvement fee of no more than $50 for 87% of vehicles, a $100 fee on zero emissions vehicles, and $100 million gained in Caltrans efficiencies.

To ensure that these new revenues are allocated as intended, Frazier authored Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5. ACA 5 locks up transportation-related revenues from vehicle fees for use only for transportation maintenance and improvements, and prohibits use toward paying principal and interest on state transportation general obligation bonds.

An after-hours question was sent to his staff asking if Frazier had first considered reprioritizing existing state spending before pursuing tax increases. Please check back later for his response.

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Sen. Glazer explains vote against transportation bill, gas tax hike

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Cites failure to ensure reliable transit & ineffective use of funds

Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) who represents Antioch and most of Contra Costa County in the California State Senate, issued the following statement today, regarding his vote against SB-1, the transportation funding bill which included a 12 cents per gallon gas tax increase, as well as increases to the Vehicle License Fee. He was the only Democrat in the Senate and only one of two in the entire legislature to vote no.

“I want to thank Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Sen. Jim Beall and Gov. Jerry Brown for their hard work in addressing the problem of crumbling roads and aging transportation systems.

My constituents are particularly dependent on good roads and highways and reliable transit systems, so I agree we need additional transportation investments.

But this transportation package did not have the support of my district, for good reasons. Even after a multi-million dollar lobbying effort supporting the $52 billion bill, sentiment in my district ran two-to-one opposing these new gas taxes and car registration fees.

My constituents have told me loud and clear that they want any new taxes to be spent more wisely and effectively. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to spend billions of dollars on an unpopular High Speed Rail system that backers claim might be completed by 2029 when it could go for transportation improvements today.

Beyond the issues of setting better spending priorities and taxes, I also believed this bill could have been improved. We need to be more forward thinking, where we recognize the role technology can play in allowing us to use our roads and highways more efficiently.

And we need a plan that provides commuters with the confidence and assurance that reliable transit will be there for them every day of the year.

This bill also failed to ensure that any new transportation funding given to local transportation agencies be used only for the purposes intended and not diverted to other uses.

I was also concerned about last-minute amendments to this bill that the environmental community and air quality regulators say will unwisely limit our ability to control diesel pollution from trucks. These changes have never been fully vetted and deserve more scrutiny.

I look forward to continued discussions with the governor in which we take into account the need to modernize our approach to transportation in an efficient and reliable manner.”

The bill passed both the State Senate and Assembly and awaits the signature of Governor Brown. To learn more about the bill, click here.

 

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