Sacramento County nears transportation sales tax vote
June 1, 2020
The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors is expected to decide soon whether to place a question on the fall ballot to raise $8 billion over 40 years for transportation purposes via a sales tax.
Public votes in the Sacramento area to raise revenue for road, bridge and transit work is not uncommon.
In 1988, voters approved Measure A to add a one-half-cent county-wide sales tax. Voters renewed their pledge to tax themselves in 2009 for an additional 30 years.
The sales tax is earmarked for construction of highways, streets, and roads; maintenance of existing streets, and roads; transit; and transportation-related air quality programs.
2020 sales tax ballot effort
Sacramento Transportation Authority board, which was formed by approval of Measure A, voted this spring to endorse a proposed ballot measure to again raise the sales tax.
The county already has a half-cent sales tax in place. The new tax would overlap with the existing one for about two decades.
The question to raise the sales tax by one-half cent is expected to allocate about 40% of revenue for transit work. The remaining revenue would be directed for maintenance, rehabilitation and improvements to streets and highways.
Nearly $2 billion would be used for maintenance and repair of streets and roads. Another $650 million would be applied for road work that includes new carpool lanes on Interstate 80 and U.S. 50.
The project spending list is expected to include adding “managed lanes” to all freeways in the county that are capable of being used as carpool lanes, bus lanes, zero-emission vehicle lanes, and possible toll lanes.
The county board is expected to take the measure up for inclusion on the fall ballot when it meets in July.
Passage on the November ballot would require a two-thirds supermajority.
Voters in Sacramento County decided four years ago on a question to benefit an array of transportation improvements. The 30-year, one-half cent sales tax increase called for raising as much as $3.6 billion.
Measure B was defeated despite 65.7% of voters supporting the sales tax question. The tally fell just shy of the 66% supermajority required for passage.
Supporters of the latest ballot pursuit say the tax increase is necessary to cover all the projects that are not covered by existing money.
Critics say continued pursuit of additional tax revenue during this time would make local officials look “heartless.”
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