The state bill that would give the Metro Board of Directors the authority to send a Measure R extension to voters was approved by a second Assembly committee on Monday. Earlier this month, the bill was approved by the Assembly’s Local Governments committee.
The Metro Board has not decided to take any action yet — but the state bill sets the stage for that discussion on how best to fund an acceleration of transportation projects (see the Metro staff presentation). The news release from Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), who wrote AB 1446, follows:
ASSEMBLY TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE APPROVES FEUER LEGISLATION TO EXPEDITE L.A. COUNTY TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS
AB 1446 Authorizes L.A. County Metro to Seek Voter Approval for Extension of Existing Measure R Sales Tax for Infrastructure Projects
April 23, 2012 (Los Angeles) – Today the Assembly Transportation Committee approved AB 1446 by Assembly Member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) on a bipartisan vote. The measure would, with voter approval, fund Los Angeles County rail, highway, bus and local transportation improvement projects more quickly, jump-starting those projects and getting Angelenos back to work.
Specifically, the bill would authorize the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to ask County voters to extend the term of the Measure R sales tax authorization indefinitely. This extension would enable Metro to bond against future Measure R revenue and build transportation projects much sooner than originally contemplated, relying only on local funds.
“We need to get these transportation projects underway as soon as possible,” said Feuer. “I’m delighted that two Assembly committees overwhelmingly passed AB 1446, which will empower L.A. County voters to jumpstart 160,000 jobs and break through traffic congestion that chokes our region.”
“The hundreds of thousands of working men and women represented by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor strongly supports AB 1446. Tens of thousands of construction workers will be able to get back to work sooner and help get our regional economy back on track sooner by allowing L.A. County voters to have their say. We need to do what we can now to accelerate the Measure R projects and build these infrastructure projects sooner rather than later,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
“With voter approval AB 1446 will enhance regional infrastructure to accommodate Los Angeles’ growing population, and ultimately create well-paying reliable jobs for Californians,” said Marc Burgat, vice president of governmental affairs for the California Chamber of Commerce.
In Los Angeles County, 336,000 jobs have been lost since 2007, and 582,900 people were unemployed as of October 2011. The construction industry has been hit especially hard; over 53,300 construction jobs have been lost in recent years.
In his first term as an Assembly Member, Feuer authored legislation that allowed Metro, L.A. County’s transportation planning agency, to put Measure R on the 2008 Los Angeles County ballot. Measure R asked voters to approve a 30-year one-half cent sales and use tax dedicated to construction and operation of a specified list of transportation projects. More than 67 percent of voters approved the measure, which commits approximately $40 billion to traffic relief and transportation upgrades throughout the county over the next 30 years. These upgrades will include westward extension of the subway and adding north/south routing to the San Fernando Valley’s Orange Line bus way. AB 1446 would provide an ongoing local source of funding to build projects in Measure R and in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan.
The measure will next be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.