Senator Wiener’s Measure to Set Voter Approval for Transportation Funding Measures at 55% Approved by Senate Committee

May 10, 2017

Sacramento –  Yesterday, the Transportation and Housing Committee approved Senate Constitutional Amendment 6 introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D- San Francisco) to set the voter approval threshold for transportation funding measures at 55%, down from the current threshold of 2/3, or 66.6%. This would put transportation funding measures on the same level as school funding measures, which were set at 55% by California voters in the year 2000. SCA 6 requires a 2/3 approval in the state legislature to be placed on the ballot, where it then requires majority approval by the voters.

SCA 6 will create a more reasonable threshold for gaining approval from voters for public transportation needs. In November 2016 alone, measures in San Diego, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Placer, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties all failed to reach 2/3 approval, but broke 55%. If these measures had been approved, starting in 2017 California would have had an additional $850 million in annual transportation investments in these six counties alone.

SCA 6 was approved with Senators Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), and Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) joining Senator Wiener to vote in support.

“To truly transform our transportation system, we need support from the federal, state, and local levels,” said Senator Wiener. “While we can’t control what the Republicans in Congress are doing, we have seen significant process at the state level with the recent passage of Senate Bill 1. Now, we need to empower our local communities by giving them more flexibility to raise funds to build out transportation systems so we can reduce gridlocks on our streets and fight climate change.”

SCA 6 is supported by transportation groups, environmental organizations, labor, and social justice advocates, including Transportation California, California Transit Association, California Alliance for Jobs, National Association of Electrical Contractors, Southern California Contractors Association, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, the Teamsters, the United Contractors, the Associated General Contractors, Move LA, California Conference of Machinists, and the California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union. 

SCA 6 would amend the California Constitution to allow cities, counties, and special districts to raise new revenues for transportation projects by meeting 55% of the vote. This would lower the threshold from the current 2/3 (66%) for dedicated taxes and bonds, and place transportation funding measures on the same approval level as school facilities funding measures, which are currently set at 55%.

Under SCA 6, to qualify for the 55% threshold, a funding measure has to be fully dedicated to transportation-related projects and programs. Transportation funding is usually dedicated to capital, which includes surface rail lines, subways, and roads, or operations, which includes bus maintenance, buying new buses or rail cars, upgrading existing metro lines, increasing service, and supplementing reduced fare programs. This constitutional amendment encompasses both.

SCA 6 will require a 2/3 approval by the State Legislature to be placed on the ballot. During that election, the measure must be approved by a majority of the voters.