Democratic state Senators Ricardo Lara, of Bell Gardens, left, and Richard Roth, of Riverside, confer off the Senate floor in Sacramento. By a razor-thin margin, lawmakers late Thursday, April 6 approved a $5-billion-a-year boost in California’s gas and vehicle taxes to pay for major road repairs. (Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press)

By Jeff Horseman / Staff Writer
Published: April 7, 2017 – Updated: 11:41 a.m.

Riverside County will get $420 million for transportation infrastructure projects, and four cities will finally get their vehicle license fee revenue back, thanks to a deal struck with two Democratic lawmakers to get their votes for a massive transportation funding package.

After some late-night drama, the California State Legislature on Thursday night, April 6 passed SB 1, a $52.4 billion bill that raises the state’s gas tax and imposes new fees on vehicles to raise money for road repairs and other transportation needs.

Because it raised taxes, the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass. It barely crossed that threshold, with 27 senators and 54 assembly members voting yes in the face of nearly uniform Republican opposition.

Two swing votes were in Riverside County, with Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside leaning no and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Riverside, undecided heading into Thursday.

Following closed-door talks and after the Assembly passed SB 1, Roth and Cervantes put out a joint statement announcing a deal.

In exchange for their ‘yes’ votes, the state agreed to restore VLF funding to Jurupa Valley, Eastvale, Wildomar and Menifee, four fledging cities that lost the money in 2011 after state lawmakers diverted the revenue to pay for law enforcement grants.

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