CA Safe Routes to School bill passes Transportation Committee unanimously!
April 15, 2013 2 Comments
Breaking news – Today (April 15) the California Legislature made a strong move in support of Safe Routes to School. The Assembly Transportation Committee unanimously passed AB-1194 (Ammiano), the Safe Routes to School bill, with an 11-0 vote to maintain dedicated and level state and federal funding to continue the highly successful program at its current rate of $46 million/year.
California has been the leader on Safe Routes to School since 1999, and the federal program was modeled after California’s success. The enactment of federal transportation legislation, MAP-21, last summer eliminated dedicated federal dollars for Safe Routes to School, but today California pledged to continue to lead the nation with level funding for the program.
In January, Governor Jerry Brown’s Administration released a 2013-2014 budget proposal for an Active Transportation Program (ATP) that would consolidate Safe Routes to School into a larger program, and would not retain dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School projects.
AB-1194 responds to the Administration’s proposal by ensuring funding for Safe Routes to School infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects and maintaining the state’s investment in a full-time Safe Routes to School program coordinator.
Safe Routes to School is a huge success. At schools in California where programs have been implemented, walking and bicycling have increased in the range of 20% to a tripling of current rates. This has contributed to a 10% increase in the rate of kids walking statewide in less than a decade. At the same time, walking and bicycling injuries and fatalities for kids have steadily dropped.
Today, the Legislature came out in strong recognition of the importance of a program that has achieved great success in making sure kids can walk or bicycle safely to school. Despite many other major hearings in the Building today and Assemblymembers drifting in and out to respond to other demands, nearly the full committee reconvened late in the day to hear comments and vote to pass AB-1194. In addition to the thick stack of letters of support each Assemblymember received, a strong group of advocates spoke and there was no opposition to the bill.
Deb Hubsmith, Director of Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and Sonja Atkins, former Greater Sacramento Safe Kids Coordinator, provided key witness testimony. American Heart Association, Public Health Advocates, California Medical Association, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Public Health Institute, PolicyLink, WALKSacramento, California Walks, the Center for Civic Participation, and four local high school students also voiced support for Safe Routes to School.
The committee members responded with unanimous support of the bill, commending Assemblymember Ammiano in taking up the bill, and, in the case of former 27-year teacher Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva, even requesting to co-author the bill.
Thanks to all the organizations, cities, counties, and school districts that submitted letters of support!
The next step in the process is to hear if Governor Jerry Brown’s Administration will now revise their Active Transportation Program proposal. Advocates will be meeting with the Administration soon, and hope that the “May revise” of the budget includes a minimum guarantee for Safe Routes to School.