By September, Atkins and others were saying the amount the tax brought to San Diego is close to $1 billion.
In the last few months, city council members, state legislators, unions, and city officials have been schlepping around to community meetings to voice their support for the excise tax of 12 cents per gallon that drivers are paying at the pump. In August, State Sen. Toni Atkins said SB1 has brought $400 million into the region. By September, Atkins and others were saying the amount the tax brought to San Diego is closer to $1 billion.
But it wasn’t that more cash showed up. SANDAG has been keeping track of the numbers and providing them to anyone who asks. And the regional transportation agency – the largest regional recipient of SB 1 money - counts all the promised funding out four or five years. When they added together all the money that’s projected for the next few years – projects are often funded in phases – they got to $1 billion.
But that money has not come to San Diego – though it is promised. And it could well disappear with the gas tax if Prop 6 is passed. SANDAG wasn’t able to easily provide figures for how much money actually arrived in San Diego this year.
The Gas Tax Repeal campaign may be one of few things that local Democrats and Republicans agree on, both those who vote yes and those who vote no. Consumers began paying 12 cents more per gallon in November and will see another 5.6-cent increase this November.
How is the proposition doing with voters? One poll in September found it stumbling, and a second poll three weeks later found it marching toward victory.
But at a Valero gas station on Palomar in Chula Vista, where dozens of cars lined up hours for the chance to buy $1.99 per gallon gas during a Prop 6 event, the sentiment was clearly in favor of the ballot initiative.
“I am living on social security, just my retirement, so the few dollars every week are very important to me,” said Maria Blanco, as she waited. Behind her, a single mom whose work hours have just been reduced waited for the same chance.
“Every dollar matters,” she said. “Especially now when I have a situation with my home going on.”
The line of cars waiting for cheap gas was a visual lesson in what regressive taxation means. A tax is considered regressive when low income families, poor people and people on fixed incomes are carrying as much or more burden than the wealthy. There wasn’t a new car in the lineup and about half the people waiting were seniors.
Allen Curry, an ardent Prop 6 supporter, said the tax doesn’t just hit people at the pump.
“It raises the cost of everything you buy that had to come on trucks from somewhere else,” he says. “Even if you don’t drive at all, it costs you money.”
(The tax on diesel fuel went up 20 cents per gallon in November 2017, and the sales tax went up 5.75 percent.)
Since the state began collecting the excise tax in November 2017, the state has collected approximately $3 billion from Californians, and has allocated all of it, according to a California State Transportation Agency spokeswoman. SANDAG’s fact sheet shows about $970 million coming back to San Diego County. But a review of the state documents suggests that far less came back in the first two rounds of state funding7, though local projects are approved for funding as much as four years down the road.
Neither the state controller nor the newly created California Department of Tax and Fee Administration is keeping count of how much of that came from San Diego – or any of the other 57 counties, their spokesmen said.
The law that created the new tax has a pretty specific formula for how it’s divided up – to a point. 
As the money comes in, the first cuts are $100 million to active transportation programs; $400 million for state bridges and culverts; $5 million for a California Workforce Development Board program for pre-apprenticeship training related to the road projects. Another $25 million is designated for local planning grants and $25 million set for freeway service patrol. Finally, the bill sends $5 million to UC and $2 million to CSU for transportation studies and training.
All those payouts - $562 million – come off the top of what’s collected by Sacramento every year. 
Half of what’s left is for the state highway system and the other half goes to cities and counties.
The money sent to cities and counties is divided up – one quarter of the money left after those first cuts is for cities and one quarter of it is for the 52 counties in California.
The formula, said to be based on population, the number of registered vehicles and for counties, the miles of county roads, is used to spread that money around the state. In order to receive these funds, cities and counties must maintain their historic commitment to funding street and highway purposes.
Local funding is allocated by statutory formulas, where 50 percent goes to cities based on population and 50 percent goes to counties based on a combination of the number of registered vehicles and the miles of county roads. In order to receive these funds, a city and county must maintain its historic commitment to funding street and highway purposes 
Half of the 20 cents diesel fuel tax goes into the existing trade corridor enhancement account.
So where is all that money going? It can be difficult to decipher because the SB 1 funds are almost always co-mingled with other road money and often spread out over years. The money is allocated from different accounts – for example, diesel fuel money that went into a separate fund for trade corridors is mixed into highway projects with money from other accounts. Transportation projects, whether by rail or on highways, are often done with funding spread out over a few years.
For example, a $27.2 million project to add fiber optics for accurate roadway information along the U.S. Mexico border was awarded $1.7 million in SB 1 funds. A $25 million project to widen and improve the bridge over the Sweetwater River on the 805 has received $12.4 million of SB 1 funds.
Some of the money is served straight up. The North County Transit District is getting $2.3 million to work on service improvements toward the goal of increasing ridership. Another chunk of money is going toward increasing daily trips by the Pacific Surfliner from Santa Barbara to San Diego from five times a day to six times a day.
Escondido is getting $12.5 million this year to pay for improvements in a half mile of Citracado Parkway. The city appears to be fully funded this fiscal year.
National City, Encinitas, Imperial Beach and El Cajon are all funded for safe routes to school programs.
Bigger projects, though, are funded over years. SANDAG and Caltrans won an award of $82.5 million for border projects ranging from a redo of the Siempre Viva interchange and the connector from the 125 to the 905, to funding Casa Familiar’s efforts to measure pollutants around San Ysidro and adding air monitors at other border crossings. However, just $10 million was actually paid for this fiscal year. Another $67 million in funding is promised for fiscal year 2019 – 2020 funding that won’t happen if the gas tax is repealed.
Similarly, Caltrans and SANDAG were awarded $10.5 million to double-track the trains between Miramar and Sorrento, and $6 million to work on the Otay Mesa truck route. But only the truck route was funded this year; the rail double-track project is slated for funding in 2019-2020 fiscal year.
SANDAG says it is taking in $513.5 million of the money, including money for joint projects with the North County Transit District and Caltrans. Caltrans independently reports receiving $299.5 million. Cities and the county brought home a total of about $154 million.
SANDAG scored the highest individual awards, topping the list with $319 million for adding high occupancy vehicle lanes from Manchester Ave. in Encinitas to Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad. The project promises one HOV lane in each direction as well as bike paths and sound walls.
The state transportation improvement program fund promised San Diego $119 million from 2018 to 2023. But this year, the region landed $500,000 from this particular fund. The biggest payout, $88 million, is set for 2023.
There are plans and commitments to send plenty of money for projects in the region. Examples include:
Caltrans brought home $53 million for 23 miles of highway improvements between the Viejas Creek bridge and the Pine Valley bridge.
Caltrans brought home $42.3 million for 49 lane miles of repairs and slurry on the 125 between the interchange with the 94 and Mission Gorge Road in Santee.
Another $42 million landed with the county, to slurry seal county roads.
The Metropolitan Transit System was awarded $40 million for improvements to the Trolley Blue Line, including better bus service to and from the Blue Line stations.
The North County Transit and SANDAG landed $40 million to beef up Coaster and Pacific Surfliner service to a goal of 17 trips a day, and to study where to put layover facilities.
The city of San Diego obtained $25.1 million to slurry seal and put asphalt on about 240 miles of roadway.
Del Mar landed the lowest award at a mere $29,976 for sidewalk and drainage improvements.
In May, Los Angeles celebrated scoring more than $700 million of SB 1 money  to improve the Metro system in time for the Olympics.