In California’s revised budget, two is better than one

Joshua Stark Headshot

Two girls ride a bicycle. Flickr something.from.nancyUPDATE 5/21/2015: The Assembly's budget proposal includes an additional $25 million for the Active Transportation Program, and another $25 million to fund free transit pass programs for youth, students, and low-income people.  Help ensure these funds stay in the budget by emailing your legislator now.

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When is two better than one? When programs to fight climate change receive more than two times their original amount of state funding. 

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown released his revised state budget proposal for fiscal year 2015-2016. Thanks to a doubling of revenues in the state’s cap-and-trade program, Governor Brown announced that funding for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund would total $2.2 billion (an amount considerably higher than the $1 billion projected in January).

That would mean twice as much funding dedicated to improving public transportation, making our streets safer, and keeping California a healthy place for people of all incomes to call home. 

If the Legislature approves this boost in critical funding, Californians can get back to work literally building our future. 

With this money, we can create new jobs, build affordable homes near transit, make our public transportation systems more reliable, and save families hundreds of dollars in transportation and housing costs. Check out our updated summary of the full Cap-and-Trade Expenditure Plan for the details on how these funds will be spent.

All of these efforts not only help us reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions, they connect Californians to opportunity.

This emphasis on equity, environment, and economy is one of the reasons California’s climate program is setting the national (and international) standard for fighting climate change.

While we applaud the Governor and our state leaders for prioritizing solutions that will truly benefit peoples’ lives, we think there is still room to improve. 

Primarily, we are concerned about the budget’s lack of adequate funding for safe walking and biking.

California leads the nation in the total number of people killed while walking and while riding bikes.[1] These numbers are a stark indicator of the work we desperately need to do to make our streets safer for everyone using them.

Even Caltrans’ newly released strategic plan prioritizes the safety of people walking and biking, representing the sea change in our state’s focus away from expanding highways and towards giving people more transportation choices.

This shift should be reflected in our state’s budget, too. The state’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) needs more funding in order to meet the demand for safer pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure.

We urge the Legislature to increase allocations to the underfunded ATP so that more people can walk and bike safely, and so we meet the goal of tripling bicycle trips and doubling walking trips by 2020.

Overall, we look forward to working with the Legislature to ensure that our state leaders continue to make decisions that reduce climate pollution while also making our communities safer, healthier, and more affordable.

[1] http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm

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TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.