CA Budget Proposal: Transportation to be a Strong Source of Job Creation

“Following virtually uninterrupted transportation infrastructure development and maintenance during 2020, it is heartening that the Governor’s proposed budget seeks to not only maintain but also expand this construction activity, enabling further job creation.” 

— John Hakel, Executive Director, Rebuild SoCal Partnership    

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has unveiled a $227.2 billion state budget proposal for 2021-2022, including $15.4 billion in state allocations for the transportation sector.

The Governor’s 2021-22 Budget Summary states that “job creation is foundational to the state’s recovery from the significant impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” And noting that “the repair, maintenance, and efficient operation of the state’s transportation system are vital to California’s economic growth and recovery,” the budget attests that “transportation projects will continue to be a strong source of job creation in the state.”

In 2020, the California Transportation Commission allocated $22 billion for more than 1,200 projects to create thousands of jobs and spur economic recovery. Nearly 40% of the funds approved by the Commission during the past year come from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1), which invests an additional $5.4 billion annually over the next decade to fix California’s transportation system.

“In the three years since the passage of SB 1, Caltrans has improved the condition of 6,400 lane miles of highway pavement in California, exceeding projections. In the same time period, Caltrans has repaired 635 bridges, an increase of almost 300 bridges over what would have been possible without the funding provided by SB 1,” states the document.

However, “the COVID-19 Pandemic has led to dramatic reductions in travel across the country and the state. As a result, the fuel excise tax revenues used to fund transportation projects, while still growing moderately, are expected to be lower than pre-pandemic forecasts by a total of $1.5 billion through 2024-25.” Nevertheless, the Governor’s Administration “continues to prioritize economic recovery and investments in California’s transportation infrastructure” and “the proposed Budget maintains sufficient planning and staffing levels to continue developing and designing previously programmed projects.”

For the four-year period from 2020-21 through 2023-24, proposed investments in the Department of Transportation include:

  • $17.4 billion for new and ongoing state highway repair and rehabilitation projects in the State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOPP). SB 1 has increased available SHOPP funding capacity by nearly $2 billion annually since 2018-19.
  • $2.4 billion for the State Transportation Improvement Program, which provides funding for future multi-modal transportation improvements throughout California. This program supports the implementation of regional Sustainable Community Strategies (75%) as well as interregional travel (25%).
  • An additional $1 billion to address traffic congestion, $900 million to provide projects that support walking and biking and $800 million for partnerships with local transportation agencies.

The budget proposal notes that the projects funded “will support a safe, sustainable state transportation system that reduces congestion, improves the environment, and facilitates job creation and economic development.”

Source: Office of Governor Gavin Newsom