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State Transportation Funding Side Deals Pass Legislature

The California Legislature has given final approval to two side deals that won several lawmakers' votes earlier this month for the transportation funding deal.
One bill sets aside nearly $1 billion for specific projects in the Central Valley and Inland Empire. That drew sharp criticism from Republicans, including Assemblyman James Gallagher.

"It just magically benefits those members who were on the fence on the gas tax," Gallagher said. "And now, magically, all their projects that they care about are fast-tracked."

Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting argued such earmarks should be used more often.

"It’s been high time that we as a Legislature take greater responsibility of our budget," Ting said, "and not allow the state bureaucrats to run amok with it."

The other bill would partially protect civil engineers and architects from lawsuits. Its author, Sen. Anthony Cannella, was the lone Republican to vote for the deal and is himself a civil engineer.

“This bill’s a fair compromise that limits the responsibility of a design professional to pay for the cost of defending lawsuits against other parties to the design professional’s percentage of fault,” Cannella said in defense of his measure during Senate debate last week.

But in the Assembly Monday, Republican Marie Waldron said private developers, public agencies and taxpayers would be forced to pay instead.

“Clearly, this measure represents the single most inequitable piece of indemnification legislation that has come before the Legislature in recent memory!” Waldon said.

Both measures – and the main funding bill – now advance to Governor Jerry Brown, who’s promised to sign them.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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