Senator Wiener’s Statement on Governor’s Public Transportation Budget Proposal

May 12, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Governor Newsom released his May Revise budget proposal, which maintains cuts to public transportation capital funding announced in a previous proposal and which continues not to address the upcoming and devastating fiscal cliff for transit operations. The Governor acknowledges the need to address the fiscal cliff, which would lead to widespread major service cuts in public transportation service across the state.

“If we don’t address the transit fiscal cliff, we will see massive and devastating transit service cuts, deeply harming the millions of Californians who rely on transit to get to work, school, or the grocery store. I’m disappointed the Governor’s revised budget proposal continues to cut billions in transit capital funding and disappointed the proposal continues to lack any funds to address the fiscal cliff,” said Senator Wiener. “Public transportation isn’t optional, and failing to address the massive budget shortfalls our transit systems face would be disastrous for our state’s climate goals and Californians’ ability to get around. I’m grateful the Governor is committing to work with the Legislature to address this critical issue, and I look forward to collaborating to protect public transportation and the vital services it provides Californians.”

With federal pandemic relief funds due to expire soon, transit agencies across the state are facing a projected budget shortfall estimated at $6-8 billion over the next 5 years. The problem affects major agencies up and down the state like LA Metro and BART. Without state funding, agencies will be forced to begin service cuts later this year, with MUNI projected to begin cutting 20 bus lines later this summer. In the worst case, service cuts lead to further loss of revenue and more service cuts, in a death spiral that would devastate the transportation system for years to come.

Senator Wiener has worked in partnership with the California Transit Association, business leaders, regional transit leaders, environmental advocates, and transit advocates and allies on a budget ask for California’s public transit systems, which was announced in April. The proposal would cover the projected shortfalls with minimal impact to the State’s General Fund, mostly by increasing flexibility within existing transit capital programs, directing diesel tax revenues to transit operations, directing currently unallocated cap and trade revenues to transit operations, and directing a portion of the increase in federal highway funding to address fiscal shortfalls. These proposals would cumulatively have a General Fund impact of just $213 million in next year’s budget.

Senator Wiener continues to work with regional partners like the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and a variety of transit and allied advocacy groups on identifying a suite of sources to address state and regional needs.

More information on the transit fiscal cliff is here:

OP-ED: It’s decision time for state leaders: save public transit, or consent to its collapse - by Laura Tolkoff in the Sac Bee

Why California public transit is at a pivotal moment - by CalMatters’s Sameea Kamal