Search title image

State Budget Update

Bookmark and Share

November 2012 Election Analysis: Impact on Transportation

November 9, 2012
Tuesday’s election proved to be significant at the local, state and federal levels and resulted in new funding for transportation and an expected two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature.

Bay Area has Two New Congressional Representatives

This was the first election since the new districts drawn by the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission took effect. This redistricting, combined with California’s new open primary system, where the top two vote getters face each other in the general election even if they are from the same party, were major factors in the outcome of a number of races.

In newly formed Congressional District 15, a district that encompasses the East Bay communities ranging from Hayward to Livermore, Eric Swalwell defeated long-time East Bay Congressman Pete Stark. In Congressional District 2, a district that stretches from Marin County to the California/Oregon state line, Jared Huffman is taking over for Representative Lynn Wolsey is retiring after 20 years in office.

Democrats Appear to have Two-Thirds Supermajorities in Both Houses in Sacramento

As of this writing it appears that the Democratic Party now controls two-thirds of the seats in each of the two state houses. This is a historic moment of full one-party control of the entire legislative process, including the ability to raise taxes as specified by the California Constitution. While this outcome will change the dynamic in Sacramento, exactly how is uncertain.

Local Measures: Roadway/Pavement Measures Fared the Best

As shown in Table 1, a number of transportation-related measures appeared on local ballots in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County. The outcomes are summarized below. At this time, the Alameda County Measure B1 remains short of the required two-thirds majority needed for passage. However, the county registrar is still counting provisional and mail-in ballots, so the final result is not yet known.

Table 1: Local Measures Affecting Transportation Funding

Measure Name

Sponsoring Agency

Summary of Measure

Estimated Annual Revenue


(% Yes/No)

Measure B1

Alameda County Transportation Commission

Make existing 1/2-cent sales tax permanent and add another permanent ½-cent sales tax

~ $215 million

Undetermined (counting of provisional and mail-in ballots is ongoing)

Most recent count:
65.63% Yes
34.37% No

Measure T

Napa County Transportation Planning Agency

½-cent sales tax dedicated to local street and road repair. Not a tax increase as it replaced an expiring flood control measure.

$11.2 million (per year) for 25 years


74.42% Yes
25.58% No

Measure L

City of Orinda

½-cent 10-year sales tax with funds proposed for local streets and roads



69.12% Yes
30.88% No

Measure K

Town of Moraga

1% 20-year sales tax increase with funding proposed for street repairs

$1 million


70.7% Yes
29.93% No

Measure J

Los Angeles County

extension of a half-cent transportation sales tax for 30 years after 2039.

$600 million

Likely Failed
792,568 ballots still to be counted

64.72% Yes
35.28% No

Source: County registrar websites

Impact of Statewide Measures on Transportation – Proposition 30 and 39

While there were no measures on the statewide ballot that were specifically focused on transportation, Proposition 30’s success will reduce the chances that the Legislature will redirect funding from transportation to help balance the budget. Passage of Proposition 39, which creates additional funding for the General Fund in the near term, also provides near-term funding of about $500 million per year, growing to over $1 billion in later years, for “clean energy” projects. While Proposition 39 is focused on energy efficiency at school sites, provisions in the initiative may be eligible for electrified transportation infrastructure or similar types of projects.

Legislative Races

Both current and former MTC Commissioners featured prominently in state legislative results. Commissioner Kevin Mullin was elected to the State Assembly. Former Commissioners Jim Beall and Mark DeSaulnier were elected and re-elected, respectively, to the State Senate. Attachment A (PDF) is a list of Bay Area legislators now serving in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Selected Statewide Ballot Measures: Progressive Bay Area vs. Rest of California

Attachment B (PDF) shows vote totals in the Bay Area vs. statewide on four controversial state ballot measures involving higher taxes, labor union political activity, and criminal justice. As you might expect, Bay Area voters led the way in approving Propositions 30 and 36, and in defeating Proposition 32. The measure to repeal the death penalty (Proposition 34) actually passed in our region, even though it was defeated statewide. Thus, the pattern of Bay Area “exceptionalism” in statewide voting continued in the 2012 general election.

Main Legislative Update page