Summary of LAO Findings and Recommendations on the 2010-11 Budget

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See Detail  Department of Transportation - Planning Program Conference Compromise - Reimbursement for Development of Local Pre-Programming Documents Recommended conference compromise: Senate version minus $3.9 million in reimbursements (for 37 positions), plus $3.9 million from the State Highway Account (for 37 positions), and trailer bill language to require local agencies to reimburse the state for PID workload requested for projects that are not in a state or local program, and are not part of the state highway system. 6-08-10
See Detail  Department of Transportation Issuance of GARVEE bonds Reject the request. 5-11-10
See Detail  Department of Transportation Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit implementation (April Finance Letter #9) Approve the request, but require a supplemental report be provided after the final settlement is approved. 4-09-10
See Detail  Department of Transportation Increased federal environmental workload. Recommend approval and adopt supplemental report language (SRL) requiring Caltrans to provide workload justification for its staffing level for local assistance once a new federal transportation act is authorized. 3-01-10
See Detail  Department of Transportation Limit Caltrans tort liability. Recommend the Legislature evaluate the proposal on a policy basis rather than as part of the budget process. 3-01-10
See Detail  Department of Transportation The budget requests nine positions and $1.3 million in federal funds per year for ten years to perform bridge load rating evaluations for 6,800 bridges in order to meet federal requirements (BCP #7). We recommend holding this item open and requiring Caltrans report at budget hearings on alternative ways (and the respective costs) of completing this work more expeditiously, instead of over ten years. 2-12-10
See Detail  Department of Transportation The budget requests a one-time augmentation of $57 million from the State Highway Account to replace and retrofit 507 vehicles and pieces of equipment in Caltrans’ fleet in order to comply with several state and local air quality regulations (BCP #6). We recommend the Legislature direct Caltrans and the Air Resources Board to identify and recommend a more cost-effective plan for meeting air quality regulations. 2-12-10
See Detail  Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control The budget proposes to increase general license fees from $12,000 to $13,800 and catering and special event permit fees from $10 to $15 beginning in 2010-11. Recommend approval of the fee increases. 2-10-10
See Detail  Department of Transportation - Debt Service The budget proposes using $57 million in Public Transportation Account (PTA) funds to reimburse the General Fund for transit-related debt service in the current year. Recommend using $219 million in existing PTA funds for transportation debt ser-vice in the current year to help the General Fund. This includes (1) $140 million in PTA revenues, and (2) $79 million of non-Article XIX-restricted revenues transferred from the State Highway Account (SHA). 2-05-10
See Detail  Department of Transportation - Project Initiation Documents The budget proposes to shift roughly $4.5 million in funding from the State Highway Account (SHA) now used to support 96.5 positions that develop Project Initiation Documents (PIDs) to reimbursements from local transportation agencies. We withhold recommendation pending submission of an April Finance Letter ad-dressing the staffing needs for the entire Planning Program. 2-05-10
See Detail  High-Speed Rail Authority - Right-of-Way Agents The budget requests $190,000 for two right-of-way agent positions to plan, organize, and direct all right-of-way activities. We withhold recommendation pending the authority’s release of a right-of-way acquisition plan sometime in February 2010. 2-05-10
Department of Motor Vehicles The budget requests $25 million for working drawings and construction of the (1) Fresno field office replacement and (2) Redding and Oakland field office reconfiguration projects. Reduce by $23.7 million. Our review of project timelines shows that the DMV will not be able to begin construction for these three projects in the budget year. Recommend that the Legislature approve funding only for the working drawings phase of these projects—Fresno ($1,174,000), Oakland ($155,000) and Redding ($237,000). Construction funding can be provided in the 2011-12 budget without causing project delay. 2-02-10
Department of Transportation The budget proposes to permanently increase Caltrans’ operating expenses by $5.7 million from the State Highway Account to pay for the increased cost of fuel used to operate the department’s vehicles and equipment (BCP #1). Hold this item open until May when updated fuel price estimates will be available. 1-25-10
Department of Transportation The budget requests one-time funding of $8.5 million from the State Highway Account to pay attorney’s fees as part of the settlement of recent litigation against Caltrans regarding violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (BCP #16). Hold this item open until May, by that time the court is expected to decide the specific amount of attorney’s fees that Caltrans will owe. 1-25-10
See Detail  Crosscutting The budget proposes to eliminate the state's 6 percent sales tax on fuel. The proposal also increases the state's excise tax on fuel by 10.8 cents per gallon in 2010-11, which would generate roughly $1 billion less in revenues than under current law. The new excise tax revenues would fund a different mix of transportation purposes, including paying for a substantial portion of the state’s transportation bond debt service on an ongoing basis, while eliminating transit-related funding. The Governor’s proposal has merit due to the ongoing General Fund benefit. We recommend that the Legislature consider modified versions of the proposal that would likewise achieve ongoing General Fund benefit but would also maintain funding for transportation purposes at or near current levels to fund the state’s substantial transportation needs. 1-22-10