As Gov. Gavin Newsom ratchets up California’s response to climate change, Republicans and even some in his own party are lashing out at his plans to tap into billions of dollars in gas taxes and vehicle fees earmarked for transportation projects.
The debate centers on the use of up to $5 billion generated annually by SB 1, a 2017 law that increased the gas tax and vehicle fees to address a backlog of road repairs and improve mass transit. Some 20% was dedicated for rail and mass transit, and the law specifies that $100 million annually will be used to build more bike paths, crosswalks and sidewalks.
Newsom upset some fellow Democrats when he vetoed a bill Saturday that his administration said would have expanded the existing law’s $100 million in subsidies for bicyclist and pedestrian improvements to a yearly total of $1 billion.
“This veto is extremely disappointing,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), author of the bill, which he said would fight climate change by making it safer for people to leave their cars behind. “Far too many of our state highways that run through local communities are dangerous for people who aren’t driving cars.”
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2/SB 127’s veto is a tragedy for many Californians. 100s of elementary schools are on or close to these unsafe roads. Many kids literally can’t cross these roads to get to school w/o engaging in a game of Frogger. Caltrans should be ashamed of its failure to make these roads safe
— Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) October 13, 2019
Today we learned the Governor vetoed #SB127 the #completestreets bill by @Scott_Wiener. Beyond disappointed. We were hopeful that @GavinNewsom's appointment of a bike-friendly @CaltransHQ Director was a signal of changes, but now we fear more of the same. https://t.co/mQxiPTlscr
— California Bicycle Coalition (@CalBike) October 13, 2019