California bill would accelerate transit projects

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/6/2012

Touted as a way to reduce congestion, a California state lawmaker wants to make sure funding for Los Angeles area transit projects does not dry up anytime in the foreseeable future.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, introduced a bill Wednesday, Jan. 4, to help pay for local transit projects more quickly. If approved by lawmakers, voters in Los Angeles County could soon decide whether to extend the length of the Measure R sales tax authorization.

Approved by voters in 2008, Measure R increased the county’s sales tax by one-half cent from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent with the revenue to be used to fund mass transit and road projects, including carpool lanes.

The tax is expected to raise as much as $40 billion for traffic relief and transportation upgrades through 2038.

Feuer said the extension would allow the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to bond against future Measure R proceeds and get transit projects done much sooner than initially planned, without relying on federal or state funding.

“This bill would address three major problems in Los Angeles County by creating thousands of desperately needed jobs, reducing traffic congestion that chokes our region, and decreasing pollution,” Feuer said in a statement.

The bill does not specify a sunset date on the tax increase. AB1446 is awaiting assignment to committee.

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