Senate Republicans formally introduced legislation yesterday that guarantees the transportation tax dollars we all pay are directed to California’s roads, highways and bridges. Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 7 closes a loophole in California’s Constitutional protections that has led to a diversion of transportation taxes and fees that takes money away from transportation infrastructure projects.

We need this investment. Our roads are in terrible shape. California has more than 175-thousand miles of public roads, and the Department of Finance says those roads need about $59 billion worth of maintenance. 90 percent of California’s counties have an average pavement rating of ‘at risk’ or ‘poor.’

During the last 15 years, the voters have supported Constitutional Amendments to dedicate transportation taxes for transportation purposes.  Proposition 42 passed in 2002 with 69 percent support and promised that the sales tax on fuel for motor vehicles that all Californians pay would be used for maintaining and expanding our roads, highways and bridges.  Additionally, Proposition 22, approved by voters in 2010, promised that transportation taxes cannot be borrowed for non-transportation services.

Despite these constitutional guarantees, the Legislature found a loophole that allowed the diversion of transportation taxes to benefit the state’s General Fund, instead of using the money to fix our roads.

Although the fiscal crisis is now over, this diversion hasn’t stopped. Legislators are still passing budgets that divert more than $1 billion every year to the State General Fund.  Over $5 billion has been diverted since 2010.

SCA 7 guarantees that the state abides by the original intent of Proposition 42 and other Constitutional amendments that sought to dedicate transportation taxes for transportation purposes.

Our measure puts an end to this budgetary sleight-of-hand. It will ensure that every dollar we pay in transportation taxes and fees will be spent to build and repair our roads.

If passed by the Legislature, SCA 7 will appear on the November, 2016 ballot.