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 cycle. The state has until April 1st
to present the courts with its plan to restore the STA and replenish
its reserves, though transit operators and their lobbying association
hope negotiations and the blueprint for repayment come much sooner.
"It continues the trend of legal rulings in our favor," said California Transit Association
(CTA) spokesperson Jeff Wagner, though he cautioned that the ruling
would not move mountains overnight and the state is still strapped for
cash. "For practical
purposes, this just serves as a guideline to work out some way the
state to restore those funds."
Wagner added that the CTA has
developed an internal proposal to go to the legislature and executive
that they hope will guide negotiations. "The end point is impossible to
at this time," he said.
When asked if he believed the
state would comply with the ruling, Wagner said they were negotiating
in good faith and they expected the state to do the same. "Our
understanding from our organization's talks with the Department of
Finance, they were very surprised the court ruled in the way it did,"
he said, explaining that the state's position might have changed
dramatically since the Supreme Court's decision against it.