(a) (1)Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the commission may advance unallocated funds in the State Highway Account, in the form of loans, to transportation planning agencies, county transportation commissions, transit districts, city and county governments, and local transportation authorities for the advancement of projects eligible under the state transportation improvement program that are included within an adopted regional transportation plan.
(2) No application for a loan may be approved under this section for an agency that is not the approving authority for the county’s submission to the state transportation improvement program unless the agency applies jointly with the approving authority.
(b) When considering loan applications, the commission shall ensure that all of the following conditions are met:
(1) Projects shall comply with the environmental impact report certification requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code) and associated rules and regulations, and have prepared an environmental impact report under that act.
(2) Total project costs shall be greater than ten million dollars ($10,000,000). In counties with populations of less than 500,000
persons, the commission may waive this requirement if 50 percent of a county’s share for the current county share period made under Section 188.8 of the Streets and Highways Code is equal to or greater than the amount of project costs to be loaned.
(3) A fiscal assessment of the applicant’s ability to repay a loan shall be made by an independent fiscal consultant selected by the applicant from a pre-qualified list of fiscal consultants approved jointly by the department and the commission. The department shall make a recommendation to the commission based on the analysis conducted by the independent fiscal consultant regarding each specific loan. Costs incurred for this assessment shall be paid by the applicant.
(4) The maximum amount of funds that may be loaned to any single county in any single loan for one or more projects shall be not more than 50 percent of the most recent
regional-choice funding allocation made pursuant to Section 188.8 of the Streets and Highways Code, in an amount of not more than one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000).
(5) Loan repayments shall be made in cash from nonstate sources.
(6) Loans shall be repaid within four years from the date the loan is made.
(7) If a default occurs, 100 percent repayment of the principal and interest, plus a penalty charge of 5 percent of the outstanding principal, shall be required in the form of a reduction in the county’s next allocation of county share funding made under Section 188.8 of the Streets and Highways Code. If that reduction is not sufficient to pay the principal, interest, and penalty due, further reduction shall be made from subsequent allocations until the outstanding amount is paid in full. Additionally, the
defaulting county shall be ineligible for regional choice fund programming made under Section 188.8 of the Streets and Highways Code until the outstanding amount is paid in full.
(8) Interest rates on loans shall be set at the rate paid on money in the Pooled Money Investment Account during the period of time that the money is loaned.
(9) The commission shall approve or disapprove all loan applications not more than 30 days after the application is submitted.
(10) When approved by the commission, the money for the loan shall be transmitted by the department directly to the applicant not later than 30 days after approval.
(11) The total amount of outstanding loans approved under this program may not exceed five hundred million dollars ($500,000,000) at
any one time.
(12) All payments on the principal of any loan plus interest or penalties paid shall be deposited in the State Highway Account.
(13) The department shall require in writing that projects funded under this section be under construction not later than six months after the date the loan funds are transmitted. If the project is not under construction on or before the date set by the department under this paragraph, the department shall require that the loan be paid back, with interest, not later than 10 days after the department notifies the recipient that repayment is due.
(c) The loan program created under this section shall automatically commence on a first-come, first-served basis whenever the State Highway Account cash balance exceeds four hundred million dollars ($400,000,000) and shall be suspended
whenever the commission determines that moneys in the State Highway Account will reach a cash balance of less than four hundred million dollars ($400,000,000), based on historical experience, the need for state matching funds, and anticipated contractual needs, except that the commission may terminate the program at any time it deems termination to be the most prudent course of action. For purposes of informing potential loan applicants of the availability of funds to be loaned, the commission shall adopt, on January 15 and July 15 of each year, projections regarding the availability of funds to be loaned and the period of time during which funds will be available. The department shall report to the commission prior to each projection regarding the cash-flow needs of the state transportation improvement program for the following six months.
(d) Prior to loan approval, local agencies shall certify that other resources are not available to fund
the project for which the loan is requested and that the agency does not intend to create an indirect arbitrage situation.
(e) Not later than 120 days from the effective date of the act that added this section during the 1999–2000 Regular Session, the commission, in consultation with the department and interested parties, shall propose guidelines and procedures to implement and expedite the loan program established under this section.
(f) Not later than 180 days from the effective date of the act that added this section during the 1999–2000 Regular Session, the commission, after a public hearing, shall adopt a uniform loan agreement package, including guidelines and implementation procedures, and shall begin operation of the loan program. The uniform loan agreement package shall describe loan repayment options, and all other terms and conditions necessary to protect the public
interest as well as expedite the availability of funds for needed transportation improvements in the state. The commission shall make available to all interested parties the loan agreement associated with every specific loan made under this section for a period of 30 days prior to approval of those loans by the commission.
(g) The commission shall recommend to the Governor and the Legislature any suggested changes in the dollar limits required under subdivision (c) and any proposed solutions to any other issues relating to the program’s impact on expediting delivery of transportation projects.