California Considers Port Security Funding Plan

California Gov. Arnold Scharzenegger is considering taxing companies using the state's ports to help pay for pollution and security costs.

The governor's aides are currently negotiating with shippers and other industries that utilize the ports on transportation to add private funding to other efforts to cover the costs, the Sacramento Bee reported Sunday.

Residents in California's Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are concerned that companies using the facilities are not being taxed to pay for pollution and security. Los Angeles and Long Beach annually handle 40 percent of the United States' import and export cargoes.

The Sacramento Bee said the thousands of ships, trucks and diesel forklifts at Los Angeles and Long Beach produce 20 percent of the South Coast's pollution and truck traffic has also created traffic congestion on the roads surrounding the ports.

Earlier this year, Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 927, introduced by State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat from Long Beach. Senate Bill 927 through the California state legislature would have introduced a $30 fee on every container that passes through Los Angeles and Long Beach to pay for port security, air pollution programs and transportation improvements. In defending his veto, Schwarzenegger said that the legislation did not clearly specify how the money generated by the bill would be spent.

Schwarzenegger offered instead a multi-track strategy for all California's ports, not just Long Beach and Los Angeles. Measure 1B on the November ballot is a $19.9 billion measure that includes $1 billion in taxpayer-financed bonds to reduce air pollution at the ports and $2 billion to improve goods movement.