City Gas Tax Revenue Saved in State Budget Deal: What Does That Mean?

7_28_09_villaraigosa.jpgPhoto: d.sato/flickr

Now that the Governor and legislature have finally reached an agreement on the state budget, city transportation staff can breate a sigh of relief. The deal announced by Mayor Villaraigosa and Council President Garcetti that ended Schwarzenegger’s plan to "borrow" against local gas taxes that were, of course, dedicated towards transportation.

While the Mayor was celebrating his victory on Twitter, Garcetti sent out an email outlining what exactly the deal struck between cities and our state leaders means for local transportation:

The outpouring of support from our community last month made a difference during the Legislature’s tense negotiations. Our letters to state legislators helped protect a critical source of revenue for local municipalities.

As I noted when I last wrote you, for every gallon of gas you put in your car, 3 of the 18 cents that you pay in non-federal gas taxes goes to cities and local governments to help pay to maintain roads and fill potholes. It’s a tax that has always gone to local governments so that we can repair our cities’ streets, and if it had been taken it would have seriously restricted our ability to perform even routine road maintenance for the foreseeable future.

If saving road reconstruction funds exactly get you jumping for joy, a statement from the LADOT to Streetsblog implies that if the state had successfully raided the local gas taxes could have imperiled the city’s ability to paint bike lanes and other street markings:

…our Department uses ‘gas tax’ monies to pay for the speed hump program and for re-striping of streets (after Public Works Dept re-paves.) The bulk of the gas tax funding for street repairs actually goes to Dept Of Public Works, which re-paves roads, fills potholes and reconstructs curbs and sidewalks.

So there you go, anyone looking for a silver lining in the state’s massive budget cuts can at least take solace that they didn’t place us farther behind when trying to get the city to paint bike lanes and other road markings.

Last week, the Times announced the details of a an early budget agreement that including a forced sacrifice for city transportation agencies, "Cities and counties would lose another $1 billion in transportation money." Knowing that the state wasn’t planning on raiding its transit operations subsidy anymore, some fretted that this newest plan would endanger Measure R and other local alternative transportation projects. However, there was never any discussion about raiding local sales tax revenues.

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