Transit funding lost as bill dies 

A state measure passed by the Assembly that would have restored roughly $150 million in funding to Bay Area transit agencies, including $36 million to the cash-strapped San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, has stalled because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to sign the legislation.

The $150 million would have been dispensed during the next 15 months, and could have been allocated in time to help balance the operating budgets for transit agencies during the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The SFMTA, which manages Muni, is facing a $56.4 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. The agency recently cut service by 10 percent to help balance its midyear budget shortfall, and officials were hoping that the state funding could lessen some of the proposed reductions.

"We are in shock right now," said Nathaniel Ford, the SFMTA’s executive director. "This is really some terrible news. Our operating budgets would have been much easier to manage with this state funding, and now we’re asking ourselves again, ‘Where do we go from here?’ We’ve already raised fares and cut service."

BART, which is a facing a four-year projected budget shortfall of $60 million, stands to lose $26 million because of the governor’s decision not to sign the legislation.

In the past three years, Schwarzenegger has repeatedly slashed transit funding to balance California’s volatile budget, and the SFMTA has lost $179 million in state assistance during that time.

The latest transit funding proposal involved a complicated gas-tax swap that would increase diesel sales tax but offset that by lowering excise taxes. The proposal would have had a neutral effect for people paying at the pump, but the increase in sales tax would restore $400 million lost in state transit funding.

It could be weeks, possibly longer, before a similar bill is presented to the governor.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

 

Help from the state

TRANSIT FUNDING (fiscal years):

2012-13: *$350 million

2011-12: *$350 million

2010-11: *$400 million

2009-10: $0

2008-09: $153 million

2007-08: $316 million

2006-07: $624 million

* Under proposal

 

FUNDING LOST:

SFMTA
FY 2010-11: $36.0 million
FY 2011-12: $31.4 million

BART
FY 2010-11: $26.2 million
FY 2011-12: $23.0 million

Caltrain
FY 2010-11: $5.1 million
FY 2011-12: $4.3 million

Source: SFMTA

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Will Reisman

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