BUDGET DAY PLUS 21 -- With legislative negotiations apparently at a standstill today over a new state budget, a new media blitz is about to get underway to keep lawmakers from raiding the transportation funding cookie jar.
A consortium of transportation, business, and local government folks will gather tomorrow on the state Capitol grounds to unveil a series of radio ads that are expected to air in markets across California, ads demanding lawmakers stay away from $1.1 billion in transportation funding.
One of the now well-known private Capitol discussions about solutions to the $15 billion shortfall is to borrow money set aside for transportation by two voter-approved initiatives, 2002's Proposition 42 and 2006's Proposition 1A. Transportation funds have been especially tantalizing in recent times, because they come from the sales and use taxes collected on fuel.
Prop 42 funds were raided in years past to paper over budget holes, which is what led to the Prop 1A "fix" of the earlier initiative. The 2006 version... placed on the ballot by the Legislature, but only after transportation advocates qualified their own initiative... says any of the Prop 42 funds must be paid back within three years with interest, and limits state lawmakers to two loans in any 10 year period.
The buzz surrounding borrowing from transportation other pots of earmarked cash reached a fever pitch last week when Governor Schwarzenegger told the Los Angeles Times that legislators were preparing just such a plan... a news report that quickly was panned by Democrats who argued it's a GOP legislative idea, not one they're pushing.
Either way, the transportation folks who won the 2006 battle at the ballot box is gearing up for another PR battle.
"Democratic leaders and the governor have indicated they oppose borrowing Prop. 42 funds to balance this year’s budget," says this morning's press release. "But, as raiding Prop. 42 funds continues to be discussed as part of a budget deal, groups participating in Wednesday’s news conference feel it’s necessary to educate the voters about this irresponsible plan."