LAO 2004 Budget Analysis: Transportation

Analysis of the 2004-05 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2004

California Transportation Commission (2600)

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) is responsible for adopting specified multiyear transportation capital outlay programs and allocating funds appropriated by the Legislature to carry out those programs. The commission is also responsible for assisting the administration and the Legislature in developing transportation policies. The major responsibilities of the commission include:

The CTC consists of nine part-time members appointed by the Governor. In addition, one member each from the Senate and the Assembly serve as ex-officio members of the commission.

The CTC is authorized 17 positions in the current year, including three positions to administer the TCRP. Pursuant to Control Section 4.10 of the current-year budget and Executive Order D-71-03, the administration is proposing to reduce the commission's current-year staff from 17 to 13 positions. For 2004-05, the administration is proposing to eliminate an additional three positions associated with the proposed repeal of the TCRP. This would leave the commission with a staff of ten positions.

Elimination of TCRP Staffing Should Await Determination of Program Status

We recommend that the Legislature withhold action on eliminating three positions and $256,000 for the Traffic Congestion Relief Program until it determines the status of the program. Based on that decision, the Legislature should adjust the commission's staffing level accordingly.

The TCRP, enacted in 2000, provides $4.9 billion to fund 141 specified projects over multiple years. The CTC is statutorily responsible for providing administrative oversight for the funding of these projects, including the development of administrative guidelines, review and approval of project applications, allocation of state funds, and periodic reporting on program status. In 2000-01, the commission was provided three positions to handle TCRP-related workload.

Currently, TCRP projects are in various phases of development and funding. The Governor proposes to repeal the program in 2004-05 and eliminate the commission's staff related to the program. If the Legislature decides to repeal the program, as proposed, thereby eliminating all TCRP workload, the three positions should be terminated. Alternatively, the Legislature may choose to keep the program intact or modify the program, with ongoing workload for the commission. Because the Legislature has yet to make a decision regarding the program's status, we recommend that it withhold action on the budget proposal to eliminate the three positions pending that decision. Based on the decision, the Legislature should adjust the commission's staffing accordingly.

Excessive Staff Reduction Would Hinder Commission's Function

We recommend the Legislature eliminate only two instead of four positions as proposed in the budget because the proposed reduction would curtail the commission's ability to carry out its duties. (Augment Item 2600-001-042 by $127,000 and two positions.)

In addition to eliminating the TCRP positions, the budget proposes to make permanent the current-year reduction of four positions. This would bring the commission's non-TCRP-related staffing to ten positions, a 29 percent decrease in staffing for all such activities and duties.

However, there would not be any reduction in the commission's workload. In fact, in the current and budget years, the commission will have the added workload of issuing GARVEE bonds and administering the bond program in accordance with Chapter 862, Statutes of 1999 (SB 928, Burton). Additionally, if the Legislature concurs with the administration's proposal to change the accounting of federal fund expenditures by local projects, we think that the commission should be given responsibilities in the oversight of Caltrans' projection and management of the cash flow for local projects to ensure that the delivery of these projects are not jeopardized. (Please see our discussion in the "Crosscutting Issues" part of this chapter regarding transportation funding.)

Given the workload, we think that the reduction of four positions is excessive, and it would hinder the commission's ability to carry out its duties. Our review of the commission's annual workload shows that a staff of 12, not including the TCRP staff, is justified. This level would provide essentially the same level of support the commission has had since the late 1980s. Accordingly, we recommend that the proposal to eliminate four positions be rejected, and only two positions be reduced instead. Correspondingly, we recommend that two positions and $127,000 be restored. 

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