ECOS presentation on sales tax measure

Tonight (March 10, 2022), the ECOS Climate Change Committee received a presentation on the potential transportation sales tax measure (which I’m calling Measure 2022, until it receives an official name). The presentation was given by Roger Dickinson, who was a member of the state Assembly and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. It was very well presented, concise and on topic. My summary will not cover all the points of the presentation and following discussion, but I think will interest people who are starting to follow the potential measure.

Roger said the measure is very much like the 2020 measure which was not placed on the ballot: 1) fix-it-first; 2) solving congestion; and 3) transportation alternatives. But there are some poison pills included in this measure that were not in the 2020 measure, specifically the Capital Southeast Connector and related issues.

The language included in the 2020 measure to make sure the Capital Southeast Connector complied with air quality requirements of the SACOG MTP/SCS (Sacramento Area Council of Governments Metropolitan Transportation Plan / Sustainable Communities Strategy) was removed. This language was specifically worked out by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg as a compromise to ensure the city’s support for the measure. The removal is likely to ensure opposition from Steinberg and others in the city. The potential measure essentially makes the Capitol Southeast Connector JPA the judge of whether the project meets air quality requirements – the fox guarding the henhouse. More on this in an upcoming posts.

If the Connector causes the region to not achieve the legally required 19% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the region will be non-compliant and likely not eligible for federal transportation grants.

Discussion that followed Roger’s presentation largely revolved around two issues: 1) is it possible to stop this measure, before or after it makes the ballot, and what would that take?; and 2) should the measure be opposed even though it is likely the only significant source of match funding for SacRT grant applications to advance capital projects including light rail modernization, light rail extension, and BRT (bus rapid transit) corridors?

No answers yet, but this will likely be a major topic of conversation within and among all the transportation advocacy and equity organizations in the county, for many months to come.