A bid to raise California’s gas tax to pay for road and highway projects is on its last legs. Legislature would need to vote on a transportation funding package by the end of this month – and time is running short.
It was always a long shot: that Democrats and Republicans could come together in a special lame-duck session between Election Day and the official adjournment of the Legislature at the end of November, which is also when the special transportation session called by Gov. Jerry Brown last year expires.
Lawmakers in both parties have been working hard on a deal – both before and since the election.
“I am hopeful that those few holdouts in the Legislature will join us in developing a final proposal,“ Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Frazier said in a Friday afternoon statement. Frazier and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Beall are attempting to corral the votes of two-thirds of the outgoing Legislature.
But the odds are long.
Many lawmakers are out of the country – including the two Democratic legislative leaders. The politics of a deal aren’t easy: Backers must convince Republicans and business-friendly Democrats to raise the gas tax, and persuade liberal Democrats to back easing environmental laws. And it’s anyone’s guess if rank-and-file lawmakers – especially those leaving office – could be wrangled into returning for a last-minute vote.
Finally, the passage of Proposition 54 means the deal must now be in print for 72 hours before a vote, pushing the deadline up from Wednesday, November 30th to Sunday, November 27th.