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Superior Court in California ruled that state has to pay back funding to transit operators

December 22, 2009

From L.A. Streetsblog – In another rebuff to California’s practice of moving spillover funding from the State Transit Assistance (STA) fund to fill the hole in the state’s General Fund, a Superior Court ruled on Monday that the state had to pay back the approximately $1.2 billion it diverted from transit operators in the 2007-2008 budget cycle. The state has until April 1st to present the courts with its plan to restore the STA and replenish its reserves, though transit operators and their lobbying association hope negotiations and the blueprint for repayment come much sooner.

“It continues the trend of legal rulings in our favor,” said California Transit Association (CTA) spokesperson Jeff Wagner, though he cautioned that the ruling would not move mountains overnight and the state is still strapped for cash. “For practical purposes, this just serves as a guideline to work out some way the state to restore those funds.”

Wagner added that the CTA has developed an internal proposal to go to the legislature and executive that they hope will guide negotiations. “The end point is impossible to speculate about at this time,” he said.

When asked if he believed the state would comply with the ruling, Wagner said they were negotiating in good faith and they expected the state to do the same. “Our understanding from our organization’s talks with the Department of Finance, they were very surprised the court ruled in the way it did,” he said, explaining that the state’s position might have changed dramatically since the Supreme Court’s decision against it.

By Matthew Roth

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