Almost $1 billion in another bill may have helped the gas tax bill, which will increase gas taxes and add fees to pay for road infrastructure over the next decade, pass Thursday night.
Over the last couple days, SB 132, a separate budget bill in the state Senate, was amended to include about $927 million in transportation projects.
SB 132 now includes $400 million "for the extension of the Altamont Corridor Express to Ceres and Merced." Another $100 million is earmarked for a parkway project at University of California, Merced. Plans call for a new four-lane expressway on the east side of the city.
State Sen. Anthony Cannella's (R-Ceres) district benefits from these projects. He was seen as a key vote -- and lone Republican -- to vote for the gas tax bill, which passed in the Senate, 27-11.
“At the end of the day I asked for certain things and they delivered them, so I needed to vote for it,” said Cannella after the vote, according to the Los Angeles Times.
This bill also includes more than $427 million for the Riverside County Transportation Efficiency Corridor, which benefits the districts of state Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside) and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona). Both voted for the gas tax bill.
SB 132 is expected to be heard in the state Senate again after the state Legislature returns from Spring Recess April 17.
A state Assembly analyst told ABC10 that it was very important to guarantee that these projects would get funded.
Gov. Jerry Brown had spent the past week stumping in support of the gas tax bill across the state, including Sacramento. But it was unclear if the two-thirds majority needed to pass the bill was there.
The initial vote in the state Senate did not happen until after 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), seen as another key vote in support of the gas tax bill, said in a statement that "when it came to mustering the votes needed to pass this transportation plan, they could not ignore us, as much as they may have wanted to."
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers weren't too happy.
"There was over a billion dollars in pork that was given out to make sure they secured their bills," said state Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yuba City) after the vote.
The gas tax bill is now all but a done deal, as it heads to the governor's desk.
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