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Regional funding authorizing bill passes Senate with South Bay opposition; more work needed in Assembly

Last Friday May 24, SB1031, the Connect Bay Area Act, passed the Senate Floor and heads to the Assembly with more work to do and South Bay opposition. The next step will be Assembly policy committee hearings later in June.

In order to pass the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 16, amendments were added to exempt Marin and Sonoma Counties before 2028 (their measure for the SMART rail service expires in 2029), to include require the extension of SMART to Cloverdale (pop 9,000) to be included in the Regional Transportation Plan. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which has been sponsoring the bill, met on May 22 after these amendments, and objects to new legislative provisions that mandate a previously omitted project be added the Regional Transportation Plan which it is responsible for by Federal Law, and which Federal Law requires to be constrained to available funding. MTC is already expecting to have to cut back on capital projects in the regional plan due to less funding than previously anticipated. MTC may hold a special meeting in June to discuss how to approach SB1031 in the Assembly.

On the Senate Floor, Senator Cortese from San Jose spoke in opposition. Cortese, San Jose Mayor Mahan, and Supervisor Cindy Chavez say they will oppose a measure unless their concerns are

South Bay leaders object to the region as a whole providing long-term funding to close longstanding deficits at SFMTA, when the South Bay has raised billions in local funding over time, San Francisco should have the ability over time to provide self-help funding for SFMTA.

South Bay leaders want to protect the ability to reauthorize their local sales tax, including Measure A which was passed in 2000 and continues to 2036, presumably to raise additional funds for the $12b project to extend BART to Silicon Valley. Ironically, South Bay is making it difficult to maintain robust BART service in order to build an extension that will be worth little without good service.

Senator Wiener remains committed to advancing and improving the bill to address the fiscal cliff facing Caltrain, BART and other agencies to provide more rider-friendly, coordinated transit.

The Voices for Public Transportation Coalition continues to support moving the bill forward while working to secure enough funding to improve transit and maintain progressive revenue options.

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