According to the Legislative Analyst Office, there will be a $31 billion budget surplus for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. As ClimatePlan highlighted last month in this blog, there is also $44.5 billion in federal infrastructure money headed to the state as well. California is living up to the Golden State moniker. The question is will Governor Newsom use this funding to invest in his bold and ambitious climate agenda?
As Governor Newsom prepares the budget, and directs federal funding, we hope to see many of the below programs prioritized. This list is not exhaustive, it is merely a guide of existing programs that advance ClimatePlan’s values of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing vehicle miles traveled, increasing transit and active transportation access, and amplifying community voices. While some of these programs are not currently climate-friendly, new funding could be an opportunity to advocate for stronger climate requirements.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
Solutions for Congested Corridors (SCCP)
This program funds transportation projects that reduce congestion, build out transportation’s multimodal network, increase local community access, and meet the state’s environmental goals. This is a $494 million program, and $250 million is allocated every fiscal year. This cycle’s program guidelines has language around “better prioritizing” investments in rail and bus transit, ATP, and highway solutions that improve travel times or generate revenue for VMT.
Trade Corridor Enhancement Project (TCEP)
This program funds projects that move goods more efficiently in federally designated Trade Corridors of National and Regional Significance. This is a $1 billion program. Good’s movement is an important aspect of California’s economy, and a sector that is also heavily polluting the state. More money to this program focusing on zero emission freight infrastructure is vital.
State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
The program allocates money to state capital projects, like state highway improvements, intercity rail, regional highway and state transit improvements. In its current use, the STIP is not doing enough to reduce GHG and promote climate-friendly infrastructure. Any increased funds to the STIP should be directed to fund public transportation, active transportation infrastructure, and other climate-friendly infrastructure.
Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)
It is a core federal aid program to significantly reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, including non-state owned roads and roads on tribal lands. It funds mainly infrastructure improvement projects, with some exceptions for non-infrastructure projects (road safety audits & transportation safety planning). As federal infrastructure money comes into the state, this money needs to be directed to programs, like HSIP, that reduce GHG and promote equity, in line with CAPTI recommendations.
Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)
State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOPP)
This program funds all highway maintenance, safety improvements, operations and rehabilitation projects; and does not fund added capacity. This is a $17 billion program, which allocates around $4 billion every fiscal year. Money from the SHOPP should go towards more bicycle, pedestrian, and transit focused features along California’s highway system. ALL SHOPP projects should have a complete streets element.
Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC)
The program allocates money to projects that support infill and compact development; this includes affordable housing, sustainable transportation infrastructure, and other transportation related amenities. This program has around $780 million available in competitive grants. This program is part of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, so funding fluctuates and is dependent on revenue from Cap and Trade dollars.
Regional Early Action planning grants (REAP)
This program generally provides funding to support Metropolitan Planning Organizations in achieving their sustainable community strategies, which connect land-use and transportation planning. In the 2020-2021 Budget, REAP received a $100 million augmentation from the state general fund. This is a trend that Gov. Newsom should continue. Funding in this program will go towards accelerating infill housing, supporting multimodal transit infrastructure, and shifting behavior to reduce driving.
Increasing transit access/ active transportation
Active Transportation Program (ATP)
Recently, Safe Routes to School National Partnership led a request to augment ATP cycle 5 and 6. This request is for $2 billion, where the first $500 million will support Cycle 5 projects. The request also highlights the need for sustainable funding for active transportation programs. This is necessary because in 2019, only 9% of projects in the statewide component were able to get funded. Although CalBike’s analysis indicates that ATP will receive a 60% increase from the federal infrastructure bill, they conclude that this increase is still not enough compared to the active transportation needs.
Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP)
This program funds capital improvements for intercity rail services, ferry, and rail transit systems. The projects must reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase ridership, integrate rail service to other systems of transit, and improve transit safety. Funding through the program cycles has varied, for cycle 5, there is around $500 million available. This program should be given more consistent funding to better improve public transportation needs.
State Transit Assistance Fund Augmentation
In line with TransForm and other organizations, ClimatePlan is supporting their request for an $8 billion augmentation from the general fund to the state transit assistance fund. The State Transit Assistance account is the state’s largest account for transportation. With more money going to STA, transit agencies can support operations and provide much needed service. This is a vital investment to make in order to successfully reduce the need to drive and reduce emissions.
Amplifying Community Voices while Advancing Climate Goals
Partners Advancing Climate Equity (PACE)
This program funds training for frontline community leaders who have a deep commitment to their communities. This includes training to leverage resources to advance climate resilience, create data driven community needs, and navigate State funding programs, policies, resources and decision making. More funding allocated to this program means that current recipients could receive more than $8000 AND more cohorts can be formed in the state.
Sustainable Transportation Equity Project (STEP)
The program allocates money to increase transportation equity by funding community transportation needs and clean transportation options. This program has planning and capacity building grants ($1.75 million) and implementation grants ($17.75 million). This program includes community inclusion guidance that specifies that applicants must directly engage with community residents in phases of proposal development and implementation and prioritize quality outreach.
Clean Cars 4 All
This program provides direct grants to low income consumers to retire their older, higher polluting vehicle, and upgrade it to a cleaner vehicle like plug-in hybrids. For the next three years, the program will allocate $400 million. So far, according to the California Air Resources Board’s 2021 presentation, this program has retired 12,000 vehicles with cleaner alternatives. While this program has room for improvement, increased funding would expand the programs beyond the five largest air districts so more air districts across the state can adopt it.
Transformative Climate Communities (TCC)
This program funds community-led development and infrastructure projects that achieve major environmental, health and economic benefits in California’s most disadvantaged communities. According to Greenlining Institute, the TCC model is working and drastically reducing GHG. Funding for this program fluctuates as it is primarily funded by Cap and Trade dollars.