Schwarzenegger bond proposal to hear criticism from locals, Democrats in Senate hearing today

Gov. Schwarzenegger may be heading for a showdown with local officials over language in his transportation bond which strips power over transportation projects from locals and gives it to the administration.

The issue of how transportation projects are prioritized, and which ones would receive new bond money, will be among the most contentious debates over the transportation bond. That debate officially begins today, when the Senate Transportation Committee begins informational hearings about the bonds.

At the center of debate is the Schwarzenegger proposed centralization of project-choosing authority, a shift, administration officials argue, that is necessary to fast-track the most important projects in the state.

Under current law, three-quarters of any new capital expenditures in the state
transportation system are determined by regional transportation agencies, through the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), with the remaining quarter determined by CalTrans.

Democrats, local government officials, and even some Republicans are balking at the governor’s proposal to have administration officials–not local officials or legislators–control the purse strings of billions in proposed new transportation bonds.

“To go from what we considered a fairly successful bottom-up approach

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