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Push for new road repair money in California hits potholes

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at an Oakland news conference about transportation last month. It's unlikely that he'll be able to forge a deal on funding repairs this week.

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at an Oakland news conference about transportation last month. It’s unlikely that he’ll be able to forge a deal on funding repairs this week.

(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

No deal has been reached on a plan to find billions of dollars to pay for road repairs, raising the possibility that one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s priorities could languish until next year.

The governor outlined a $3.6-billion proposal last week, but Republicans refuse to provide the necessary support for the higher taxes and fees included in the plan. Some Democrats have resisted as well.

So on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly floated a slimmed-down, roughly $1-billion proposal in a meeting with business and labor groups, according to participants.

The smaller option was described as only needing a majority vote, which Democrats can muster without Republican help.

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But the interest groups in the meeting didn’t bite, fearing lawmakers would pass an inadequate plan and then refuse to revisit the issue to find a more substantive solution.

“What was being contemplated wasn’t really going to fix anything,” said Jim Earp, executive consultant of the California Alliance for Jobs, which represents contractors and union workers.

Because Brown called a special legislative session to address the issue, a deal does not need to be reached by Friday night, when lawmakers are required to finish their regular work for the year.

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Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, said there’s talk of calling a joint committee to continue hashing out a revised plan.

“It’s the next logical step to continue moving toward a solution,” he said.

Melissa Figueroa, a spokeswoman for the California State Transportation Agency, said Brown administration officials are still working on the issue this week.

“We are still weighing all of our options,” she said.

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Follow @chrismegerian on Twitter for more updates from Sacramento.

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