Mayors on board with 30/10 Initiative

I just wanted to circle back to this morning’s transportation headlines, which included this tidbit: The U.S. Conference of Mayors voted unanimously on Monday to support the 30/10 Initiative.

Attentive readers will recall that 30/10 was conceived by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and then later embraced by the Board of Directors of Metro as the agency’s official position. In short, 30/10 proposes to borrow federal funds and pay them back with Measure R sales tax revenues in order to build 12 transit projects over the next decade instead of the next three decades.

As I wrote earlier, having the support of cities across the U.S. will hopefully help get approval of 30/10 from Congress. The types of financing envisioned by 30/10 would undoubtedly help many cities attempting to build mass transit.

Here’s the press release from Villaraigosa’s office about yesterday’s vote:


LOS ANGELES – Attending a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors today, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that more than 125 Mayors unanimously approved a resolution calling for federal policies and programs that would enable the 30/10 initiative to accelerate 12 Measure R approved transit construction projects from 30 years to 10.

“30/10 doesn’t fit neatly into any existing federal infrastructure financing program, so an innovative funding package is needed. We’re not asking for a handout because we have local funds to pay back over time through a local-federal partnership,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.

“Mayors from all around the country told me they see that 30/10 could be a national financing model to enable them to build and finance their own transportation projects, and I appreciate their enthusiasm and support for our proposal.”

Mayor Villaraigosa introduced a resolution encouraging the federal government to help local communities help themselves by leveraging local transportation infrastructure investments with federal funds. By

establishing a national bond subsidy and direct loan program, the federal government can encourage cities to dramatically improve their transit systems to reduce dependence on the single passenger automobile and foreign oil while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gases and improving air quality.

The resolution specifically calls for expanding existing and/or establishing new federal tax preferred bond programs with very high subsidies that would allow state and local governments to issue tax-preferred debt for transportation projects that meet national criteria. It also urges Congress to modify the TIFIA loan program for projects that already have the majority of non-federal funding committed and that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more and has been holding their 78th Annual Meeting since last week in Oklahoma City.