How BART strike ban could be key to big transportation package-Union Buster Glazer Demands Outlawing of BART Workers Right To Strike

How BART strike ban could be key to big transportation package-Union Buster Glazer Demands Outlawing of BART Workers Right To Strike
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/How-BART-strike-b...
By Matier & Ross
April 2, 2017
Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesStriking BART workers in October 2013 at the Walnut Creek station.

The big and bold blitz by Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers to raise the gas tax and vehicle license fee to pay for a $52 billion fix-up of the state’s crumbling roads, rails and bridges has hit a speed bump right here in the Bay Area — thanks to a trio of suburban lawmakers saying, “Not so fast.”

The lead doubter is state Sen. Steve Glazer, a moderate Democrat whose district stretches from Livermore up to Orinda and over to Brentwood. Not only is he tax-averse, but his single biggest concern is outlawing BART strikes like the two that made life miserable for his constituents in 2013 — and word is, he won’t vote for the transportation package unless it contains such a ban.

Glazer declined to comment on his discussions with Brown and legislative leaders on what it will take to get his vote — other than to say he wanted a guarantee that any package would include a commitment to “reliable transit.”

“He definitely wants that,” said fellow Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, who has talked with Glazer a number of times about the BART strike ban.

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Here’s the problem for Glazer: Legislative Democrats, heavily dependent on union money and ground troops to get elected, are not likely to vote to ban BART strikes.

“I’d be surprised” if the Legislature went for it, Wiener said. “But Steve is passionate about it.”

He added, “I wouldn’t vote for it.”

The two other Bay Area question marks on the mega-transportation and tax plan are Democratic Assemblyman Timothy Grayson of Concord and GOP Assemblywoman Catharine Baker of San Ramon — both from the same neck of the woods as Glazer.

Even though she’s a Republican — the only GOP legislator from the Bay Area — Baker sometimes votes with Democrats. Not often, though: The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association gave her a 75 percent rating in 2016.

“Like any bill that comes before me, I will give it thoughtful consideration, but I will tell you this plan has some very tough sledding ahead of it,” Baker said. “It certainly does with me.

“These are significant tax and fee increases,” Baker added, and the legislation lacks “the reforms to Caltrans that would be needed to make sure that we are spending the money in the right way.”

Grayson said in a statement that he was waiting until language of the deal is released before taking a position.

The three lawmakers are outliers in a Bay Area legislative delegation whose districts tend to be more tax-friendly.

“It doesn’t have everything I wanted,” Wiener said of the package, “but we did get a threefold increase in mass transit money, so I’m for it.”

Even the governor, however, admits that a 12-cent hike in gas taxes and increased fees on vehicle registrations ranging from $25 to $175 are a heavy lift. And he’ll need every vote he can get, because the package requires two-thirds support in both the Assembly and Senate to pass.

A 2015 poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found Californians strongly opposed (74 percent) to increasing vehicle registration fees. They also opposed (63 percent) raising the gas tax. Those voters disapproved of the increases even when told they would fund road repairs.

Last week, a KPIX-5/Survey USA statewide poll found that only 23 percent of Californians surveyed think taxes and fees need to be raised for roads, compared with 61 percent who think Caltrans should spend its money more efficiently.

The governor and legislative leaders have set a deadline of Thursday to pass the package, with the Senate being the first stop.

“The idea is to get momentum going for what could be an even harder sell in the state Assembly,” said one source involved in the discussions.

All of which bring the focus back to Glazer — and it’s one reason Brown, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon descended on Concord the other day, in the heart of Glazer’s district, to push for the plan.

“If we don’t do it, the roads will crumble,” the governor warned.

Not that the show of force is likely to affect Glazer. He’s never gotten much help from leading Democrats.

When he ran for the Senate, the state Democratic Party endorsed his opponent. He was Brown’s chief strategist in the 2010 gubernatorial election, but when Glazer made a run four years later for the seat Baker eventually won, the governor declined to endorse him.

That’s left the governor and legislative leaders with precious few favors that Glazer needs to repay.