Governor Brown Signs Bill Authorizing Caltrain to Put a 1/8-Cent Sales Tax Before Voters to Fund Rail Service Improvements and Operations

October 10, 2017

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – October 10, 2017
 

Governor Brown Signs Bill Authorizing Caltrain to Put a 1/8-Cent Sales Tax Before Voters to Fund Rail Service Improvements and Operations

Legislators for the Peninsula, San Francisco and the South Bay Joined Forces on SB 797 to Help Caltrain Fund Itself, Keep Pace with Increasing Demand, Region’s Growth

Sacramento – Governor Brown signed legislation today that lays the groundwork for the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which oversees Caltrain, to put a one-eighth-cent sales tax measure before the voters of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to fund the rail service’s capital and operating costs.

State Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, was joined by Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose, Senator Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, Assemblymember Mark Stone, D-Monterey Bay, and Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, to introduce the legislation that would provide Caltrain with a stable funding source.

“Today we are one step closer to allowing the public to decide how they want to address traffic problems and improvements along the Caltrain corridor,” said Senator Hill. “Our region is an economic powerhouse for our state and the Caltrain corridor is its major transportation artery. If our residents cannot get back and forth to work, school and their families because our main transportation corridor cannot accommodate them, we jeopardize the health of our robust economy and our quality of life.”

Caltrain, which runs from San Francisco to Gilroy, is the only passenger rail service in the U.S. that relies on voluntary contributions from the transportation agencies that formed a partnership to operate the service. The partners that make up the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board are the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Mateo County Transit District and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

SB 797 lays the foundation to end fluctuating voluntary contributions by authorizing the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to seek a perpetual one-eighth-cent sales tax. Several conditions would have to be met before such a measure is put on the ballot in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. They include:

  • A two-thirds vote of approval by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board
  • A majority vote of approval by the boards of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Mateo County Transit District and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
  • A two-thirds vote of approval from each of the boards of supervisors for San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties

If the conditions are met, SB 797 allows the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to place the ballot measure before voters at any time in the future. The legislation also allows each county to exceed its tax limit as some are at or near the tax ceiling.

To succeed at the ballot box, the measure on the one-eighth-cent sales tax needs a two-thirds vote of all three counties combined.

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Resources:

Text of SB 797:
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB797

Fact Sheet:
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/factsheet_sb_797_final.pdf

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404 cell, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov