There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Evil Transitator (continued)

Heeeee's baaaaack! The Evil Transitator wants to skim more transit money to fill the gaps in the state's budget. Sacramento Regional Transit is organizing a letter writing campaign. You can get more information on their Web site here.

According to RT's handout, the Evil Transitator calls for redirecting $1.4 billion from the Public Transportation Account (PTA) into the general fund. "This is on top of the more than $1.25 billion slashed from the PTA in the current FYO8 budget and nearly $3 billion drained from the account this decade," RT says.

The proposed cuts would cost RT $18 million in the coming year. RT has already had to absorb a $14 million loss in state revenue in the current year. And the local economy isn't helping matters.

"Sales tax dollars that flow to RT through the Local Transportation Fund (LTF) are down for the third year in a row, resulting in a $14 million loss in FY09 compared to earlier projections," RT says. "Local Measure A sales tax is also down for the third year in a row, resulting in an additional $10 million loss in FY09."

RT has a sample letter you can use as guide for writing the Evil Transitator. (Download it here.) If you e-mail RT a copy (rtgm@sacrt.com) they will make sure copies of the letter are delivered to key elected officials at the State Capitol.

4 comments:

heartensoul4u said...

John - Thanks for publishing this. I used the following text when I wrote to the Governor about the budget's impact on transit. I would copy anyone else who could help - but, I don't know who they would be.

I urge your strong opposition to the anti-transit components of your proposed 2008-2009 State Budget. The proposed diversion of $1.4 billion from the Public Transportation Account (PTA) will drastically impact our mobility and quality of life. The current proposal balances a disproportionate amount of the State’s budget shortfall solution on the backs of millions of Californians (like us) who rely on transit.

My husband and I are totally reliant upon public transportation. We settled in Sacramento because we cannot afford to own a car and Sacramento has a respectable public transportation system. We are not yet elderly but my husband is physically disabled. We both work outside the home and cannot fathom the effects that a reduction in transit services would have on our lives.

With the recent increase in gas prices, Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) has seen a substantial increase in ridership figures. It reflects the fiscal responsibility of many Californians who are turning to public transportation in order to balance their own budgets in spite of rising gas prices. RT should be adding service, not eliminating it.


I hope that more folks will write in and save us from more service cuts. If I understand the math, the potential impact is twice as great as it was last year.

Thanks for your efforts to protect a Transitarian lifestyle.

Brian Goldner said...

i just came from an open house that rt presented its MTP 2035 at...mike wiley talked about the recent budget cuts...apparently RT normally gets $18M/year, and they anticipated the state cutting $7M...but now the state got greedy and want the other $11M...meaning they're gonna have to cut service if that happens. he urged everyone there to write to arnold and your state legislators

Mattie said...

Is it just me, or is the first sentence of the sample letter grammatically incorrect (or at least confusing)? "On behalf of _______, I urge your strong OPPOSITION to...your proposed 2008-09 State Budget". Shouldn't it just say, "I am strongly opposed to..."?

At any rate, that's how I started my letter to the TransitHater Governator.

I attended the RT open house on May 22nd. I wish Mike Wiley had been there; the audience asked a lot of pointed questions and made some excellent suggestions which will undoubtedly be ignored in the long run.

heartensoul4u said...

Below is the email I received from the "Evil Transitator" in answer to my email:

From: governor@govmail.ca.gov
Subject: Re:Budget

Thank you for writing to share our thoughts on my proposed 2008-2009 budget. I appreciate your input during this challenging budget year.

We live in a great state, but we don't have a great budget system to
match. Due to the ongoing effects of the housing slump and the subprime mortgage crisis, our revenues have flattened out but our spending continues to grow because of our dysfunctional budget system. In spite of the
progress my partners in the Legislature and I have made to begin to reduce the deficit, we still face a $17.2 billion shortfall. This crisis is real, and it is very serious. Because of the size of our deficit, we need to make some very difficult cuts. I know they will be painful,which is why they are so hard for me to make. But the bottom line is we cannot spend money we do not have.

However, it would not be fair for Californians to solve this crisis by cuts alone. We need to be creative and find new revenues without raising taxes. In fact, my revised budget does just that by eliminating half of our deficit through spending reductions and the other half through new sources of revenue, while fully funding Proposition 98 for education, keeping our state parks open and not releasing inmates early.

Our budget problems aren't new. For too long, people have been on a constant roller coaster ride - never knowing how much funding they'll receive from one year to the next. How many more years, how many more decades must we go through this crisis? We have to put an end to this feast-or-famine budget cycle that threatens funding for education, law enforcement, human services and other programs. That's why a central point of my May Revision is long-term budget reform. We will stabilize our budget system by establishing a rainy-day fund and by giving the Legislature authority to make mid-year cuts more swiftly. To jump-start budget reform, my revised budget proposal will get more value out of an underperforming state asset - the California Lottery. We will modernize the Lottery to boost performance and returns and gain
the capital we need to establish our much- needed rainy-day fund.

As I work to finalize the budget, please know that your thoughts are
important to me. By working together with my partners in the Legislature and with your support, we will be able to turn this temporary problem into a permanent victory for all Californians.

Sincerely,

Arnold Schwarzenegger