(Los Angeles, May 19, 2005) — The Automobile Club of Southern California today commended Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's announcement that he will restore $1.3 billion in transportation funds in his proposed budget.
"We applaud the Governor for recognizing that transportation funding must be a priority for California," said Auto Club President & CEO Thomas V. McKernan. "Traffic congestion affects our quality of life and our economy, and several major projects to relieve congestion have not moved forward because of past diversions of transportation money. The Governor is moving California in the right direction just as he promised."
Gov. Schwarzenegger is proposing to restore the transportation funding that is mandated by Proposition 42, which was passed by nearly 70 percent of voters in 2002.
Prop. 42 requires the state sales tax on gasoline to be spent on transportation projects, but it may be suspended in cases of fiscal emergency. Prop. 42's provisions have been suspended for the past three years, and if the governor's proposal is approved, this would be the first year that Prop. 42 funding is not diverted from transportation.
"Californians have said time and again in surveys and polls that an efficient, effective and modern freeway and road network is one of their top priorities," McKernan said. "The Governor has listened and has proposed an action that will result in improvements to our transportation system."
McKernan noted that while the $1.3 billion restoration is an important step, it will not solve all of California's transportation problems. Prop. 42 as it is written can still be suspended in subsequent years, unless voters approve an amendment that removes the suspension loophole.
As the budget debate moves to the Legislature in Sacramento, McKernan said the Auto Club is encouraging its members to write to their legislators and urge them to use all of Prop. 42 taxes and other transportation funds for transportation.
Also, billions of federal dollars needed for California transportation are still being debated in Washington, D.C. as Congress continues discussing a major transportation funding bill for the third year in a row, McKernan said.
"Our representatives in Congress must act now to assure that California gets its fair share of transportation funding," said McKernan. "That includes money to modernize ports so they can effectively handle both shipping and trucking activities and get goods to consumers efficiently."