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Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants to keep program that lets kids ride transit for free

Theresa Clift, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Parenting News

SACRAMENTO, Fla. — The Sacramento City Council Tuesday took a step toward keeping a popular program that allows kids to ride public transit for free.

City Manager Howard Chan had proposed cutting the program in light of a looming $66 million budget deficit, saving the city $1 million.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg suggested keeping it — one of several changes he wants to make to the budget by not putting an additional $3.8 million in a reserve fund, which Chan had proposed.

“We cannot lose this program,” Steinberg said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “This cannot and will not go away for our kids.”

Steinberg is trying to convince Sacramento Regional Transit’s board of directors to pay $250,000 and the school district boards to pay a combined $500,000. That would take the city’s share down to $250,000.

If the other agencies don’t commit to that by the planned council budget approval June 11, Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela said she wants the city to pay the full $1 million. It’s unclear whether the rest of the council would agree to that.

 

Former Councilman Jay Schenirer started the program in 2019, following the passage of the Measure U sales tax increase.

Before the meeting Tuesday, parents, students and teachers held a press conference outside City Hall to urge the council members to keep the program.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Steinberg also proposed the city keep the FUEL program, started by Councilman Eric Guerra, which provides legal aid for undocumented immigrants facing deportation. He also proposed the city keep charging $50 for certain parking tickets instead of raising them to $60, and to not increase administrative fees for certain sidewalk repair bills.

The sidewalk bills can already total over $20,000 for homeowners, a Sacramento Bee investigation found.

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