Two California counties pursue transportation taxes

November 16, 2021

Keith Goble

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Voters in two California counties could soon decide on tax questions to benefit transportation work

Fresno County

One effort underway in Fresno County would renew a half-cent sales tax for roads, transit, and pedestrian projects.

Voters in the county first approved Measure C in 1986. At that time, the half-cent sales tax was focused on expanding the area’s freeway and road system.

The tax was renewed in 2006 for another 20 years. In addition to road work, transit and pedestrian projects were included in the second version.

Although the current tax does not sunset for another five years, advocates are looking to get the ball rolling on another extension.

As early as next fall, regional transportation officials are interested in getting a new version of Measure C on the ballot.

Critics say the spending plan is outdated. Others say the third rendition is copying from the original. They say that it encourages urban sprawl.

Measure C has raised more than $1 billion for the county over the past 35 years.

California law requires for passage that two-thirds of county voters cast ballots in favor of a tax question.

San Diego area

A proposed regional plan in San Diego would help fund a $160 billion plan to overhaul transit, highways and roads in 18 cities and the county of San Diego through 2050.

Drafted by the San Diego Association of Governments, the proposal would change the gas tax to a per-mile mile. Drivers would be charged a 4-cent-per-mile tax on city roadways.

The tax would be used to create a new high-speed transit system. Additionally, new express highway lanes would be built for buses, carpools, and toll-paying drivers. Local road repairs also would be included.

Supporters say something big must happen to address the area’s future transportation needs.

Critics say residents throughout the county would be forced to foot the bill for projects that would only benefit certain people who live in certain areas, such as downtown San Diego.

The transportation agency could approve the proposal for inclusion on the ballot as early as Dec. 10. Passage would require a two-thirds majority of voters to agree.

Plans are to start collecting per-mile fees from drivers by 2030. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from California is available.

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.