California Legislature – 1st Extraordinary Session

On June 19, 2015, Governor Brown issued a Proclamation calling for the California Legislature to convene an extraordinary session to consider and act upon legislation necessary to enact permanent and sustainable transportation funding to:

  1. Adequately and responsibly maintain and repair the state’s transportation and other critical infrastructure; and
  2. Improve the state’s key trade corridors; and
  3. Complement local efforts for repair and improvements of local transportation infrastructure.

According to the Proclamation, “California faces considerable challenges in its ability to fund critical maintenance and repair of its core transportation infrastructure – state highways, local streets, roads, and bridges – and current resources do not adequately support the maintenance of this vast system.” (Full Proclamation)  The prime focus of the special session will be to act upon legislation that will improve the state’s trade corridors and provide sustainable funding to support transportation infrastructure.

California’s strength in global trade is due in part to past investments in our freight transportation infrastructure system.  The successful Trade Corridors Improvement Fund (TCIF), for example, invested $2 billion in state bond funding that leveraged more than $7 billion worth of investments in freight-related projects throughout the state. Sustained investment in our freight system, however, is needed to address the unprecedented competition we face from other North American trade gateways.  Continued competitiveness requires that this extraordinary session result in robust investment in California’s freight transportation system.

California’s ports support the following principles and priorities during the Special Session:

Strong and direct nexus between funding source and freight projects.

The Legislature should consider creation of a dedicated freight infrastructure funding program with revenue derived from appropriate sources that have a direct nexus to goods movement projects. For example, as the state considers use of diesel excise tax revenues for transportation improvements, priority should be given to freight-related road and highway improvements in key trade gateways and major freight corridors.  Projects that advance more efficient movement of freight in and out of ports – such as major truck corridors, first- and last-mile connections, and grade separations – should be emphasized.

Assure funding models do not negatively impact California’s ability to compete. 

As we seek to increase funding for freight infrastructure, it is important to avoid imposition of additional costs that make us unattractive for international cargo or otherwise hamper California’s ability to compete in the global economy. As it stands, current trade-related regulations in California are already the strictest and most expensive in the world.  New funding sources should be assessed within this context: there are already significant California-only costs associated with freight transportation, which already puts us in a position to lose market share to other states and nations.

Increase Cap and Trade funds for freight-related emissions reduction and efficiency projects. 

As Cap and Trade programs mature, the Legislature should dedicate additional funds to freight programs that not only deliver greenhouse gas reductions, but also provide direct economic and environmental co-benefits, especially in port areas and disadvantaged communities.

Advocate for federal freight-related funding. 

As the federal government considers surface transportation funding, it is critical that California engage in efforts to assure that significant freight-related funding is not only part of the package, but that California receives a fair share of related revenue.  More than 40% of the total containerized cargo entering the United States arrives at California ports, and almost 30% of the nation’s exports flow through ports in the Golden State.  Nationwide, nearly 3 million jobs are linked to activities at our ports.