Court Orders California to Stop Robbing Transit (Updated)

Things may have gotten a little more difficult for Governor Schwarzengger, who is already wrestling with the titanic task of trying to pass a balanced budget for the fiscal year starting today, when a California court of appeals ruled that the state needs to stop taking funds dedicated by voters towards transit projects and use it to try and close the gaping funding hole.

The California Transit Association, that called the winter budget deal that zeroed out the state’s operations assistance program "Armageddon," were the plaintiffs in the case that resulted in yesterday’s big win for transit.  They celebrated and explained the court decision yesterday.

While the Court claims no authority to order repayment of funds
re-routed in past budget deals, the decision means that continued
diversion of voter-mandated transit funding is illegal going forward.
And that means that approximately $1 billion earmarked for the General
Fund as part of current negotiations must be restored to transit.

“The ruling clearly states that the rip-offs are illegal,” said
Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association
and lead plaintiff in the suit that was originally filed over $1.19
billion taken from the Public Transportation Account (PTA) as part of
the 2007-08 budget agreement. “It says they’ve been illegal since
before 2007, and it says that the definition of mass transportation
that lawmakers have adopted since then to mask these diversions is

Unsurprisingly, the Schwarzenegger Administration is already promising an appeal and is asking the appeals court to stay its decision pending the outcome.

Update: Dana Gabbard of So.CA.TA. sends the text of the decision.  It can be viewed here.

4 thoughts on Court Orders California to Stop Robbing Transit (Updated)

  1. The court case victory halting the legislature’s raid on public transit funds indicates how lost Californians’ priorities become in Sacramento’s budget mess. To cut traffic congestion and harmful pollution, California needs more public transportation. Recent ballot measure victories, including the passage of Measure R in Los Angeles, highlight that voters are willing to pay higher taxes to build it.

    Furthermore, there are solutions to balance the budget and pay for public transportation, including taxing oil companies, just like Texas and Alaska already do. But to date Sacramento has chosen to protect the oil companies and punish transit riders.

    Governor Schwarzenegger should support a budget that taxes oil companies to help pay for public transportation and other needs. Fellow Republican Gov. Sarah Palin does it. So should California.

    Emily Rusch is the State Director of the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG).

  2. This is nice in a way, but it’s also like finding a quarter on the deck of a sinking ship . . . with no lifeboats.

    CA is screwed because it takes a 2/3 majority to raise most taxes, and there isn’t political support in the state legislature to make the cuts necessary to balance budgets without tax increases.

    We need to change the state constitution or endure even more decades of fiscal insanity from Sacramento. Or should I say, from ourselves, since we passed Prop. 13 in 1978 (well, not me, but you get the idea).

  3. Rename ourselves The Republic of California and pretend to be a developing country. Oh wait, we don’t have to pretend anymore, ha.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Another Court Decision Goes in Favor of State Transit Agencies

Photo: Thomas Hawk In another rebuff to California’s practice of moving spillover funding from the State Transit Assistance (STA) fund to fill the hole in the state’s General Fund, a Superior Court ruled on Monday that the state had to pay back the approximately $1.2 billion it diverted from transit operators in the 2007-2008 budget […]

Help Stop Further State Cuts to Transit Operations

Caltrain parked in SF. Photo: smif/flickr Last month, Streetsblog we saw that thanks to some creative accounting, Governor Schwarzenegger had found a new and creative way to rob transit even after he effectively eliminated the transit subsidy that exists in the state budget.  Because the gas tax is producing more funds than expected, hundreds of […]

Write Governor, Legislature to Stop Raid on Transit Funds

As Governor Schwarzenegger continues his quixotic quest to reduce the state’s Greenhouse Gases without reducing the number of cars that travel California’s car choked freeways, the newest state budget continues what is now a more than yearly tradition of robbing transit funds to help balance the out-of-control spending in other parts of the state budget. […]

Advocates Launch Effort to Restore State Transit Funding

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has told advocates he wants to help find a state transit funding solution. California transit advocates have begun organizing a strategy to move legislation through Sacramento that would dedicate a steady, long-term state revenue source for public transit and prevent future budget writers from raiding it. "We need to […]