Cap-and-Trade budget deal a step forward, but ATP left out

Lawmakers worked Sunday to approve the final details of the 2014-15 State Budget, including both a short- and long-term plan for allocation of Cap-and-Trade Program funds.  The final compromise makes a strong commitment to supporting sustainable communities, affordable housing, transit, and natural resources, but the level of biking and walking investment is ultimately uncertain.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership worked with our partners in the Sustainable Communities for All Coalition to advocate for focusing the Cap-and-Trade funds on integrated transportation and housing solutions targeted towards the lowest-income communities in the state. In the areas of transit, affordable transit-oriented housing development, and natural resources, our priorities were heard and featured prominently in the budget deal. Complete streets were even slated for 10% of long-term Cap-and-Trade allocations in an early proposal from Senator Steinberg. However, the new Active Transportation Program, established last year with the intent of receiving a boost from Cap-and-Trade funding, was never specifically called out in any proposal and didn’t make the cut for a dedicated allocation.

The 2014-15 budget invests $872 million of Cap-and-Trade revenue through the following programs:

  • $250 million for High Speed Rail
  • $50 million for Transit and Intercity Rail, including capital and operations investments
  • $130 million for Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (active transportation is eligible)
  • $200 million for Low Carbon Transportation (i.e. clean vehicle rebates)
  • $242 million for a combination of energy efficiency, natural resources, and waste programs

Senate Bill 862, the Cap-and-Trade budget trailer bill, outlines future appropriations of Cap-and-Trade funds starting next year based on the following percentages:

  • 20 percent for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program
    • includes Complete Streets, active transportation infrastructure and non-infrastructure, transit-oriented housing and other development, transit pass programs, agricultural land protection, and sustainable communities planning
    • half of these funds must be used for affordable housing
  • 10 percent for the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program
  • 5 percent for the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program
  • 25 percent for High Speed Rail
  • 40 percent for clean vehicle rebates, natural resources programs, energy efficiency, and other programs.

Though the Active Transportation Program did not receive a dedicated allocation, biking and walking are broadly eligible under the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which will be administered by the Strategic Growth Council. One of the goals of that program is to leverage Active Transportation Program investments, and we look forward to working with the SGC to ensure that goal is realized through implementation.

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