Worries about long-term transportation needs have spurred rumblings of a ballot measure for another sales tax to fund transportation projects in Riverside County.
Early next year, the county Transportation Commission could discuss whether to ask voters for a new sales tax to complement one in effect for almost 30 years. A new state law gives the commission flexibility to seek a second sales tax, which would require approval from two-thirds of commissioners and two-thirds of voters.
The county has a half-cent transportation sales tax known as Measure A. Voters approved Measure A in 1988 and extended it to June 30, 2039 through a 2002 vote.
Talk of a new local tax comes as Californians start paying more for transportation work. SB 1, passed in Sacramento in April, raised the gas tax 12 cents a gallon, raises diesel taxes and creates new annual fees on vehicles to finance $54 billion for road repairs and other transportation needs.
At least two campaigns are underway to repeal the gas tax hike at the ballot box.
SB 1 barely made it out of the Legislature. To get the crucial swing votes of Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes and state Sen. Richard Roth, both D-Riverside, Democratic leaders set aside $427 million in the state budget for a new freeway interchange, a wider bridge and other transportation projects in Corona, Jurupa Valley and other communities in Cervantes’ and Roth’s overlapping districts.
Despite the recent funding infusion, local officials worry the county lacks money for transportation needs decades down the road. The county, which rivals New Jersey in acreage, continues to be one of California’s fastest-growing, and a 2013 forecast put the county’s population at 4.2 million – double what it is now – by 2060.
John Standiford, the transportation commission’s deputy executive director, said long-term demands for more Metrolink and rail service, freeway upgrades and other projects could outpace available funding.
Asked why Measure A can’t…