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LOS ANGELES – Mayor Villaraigosa vowed during his seventh State of the City address that he will ask voters in November to continue the Measure R half-penny sales tax originally passed in 2008. Currently, Measure R is set to expire in 2039.
“It’s time for some common sense for the common good,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “By continuing Measure R, we will be creating jobs, performing highway improvements, and completing light rail and subway projects in one decade, instead of three.”
Thanks to Los Angeles County voters who passed Measure R by a two-thirds vote in 2008, we are doubling the size of our rail network while making significant highway improvements.
By continuing Measure R beyond 2039 and keeping it in place until voters themselves decide to end it, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will have additional future revenue available to bond against. This will make it possible for Los Angeles to accelerate highway improvements and transit construction while creating 410,000 jobs.
To continue Measure R, the State Legislature and Governor must approve legislation being led by Assemblymember Mike Feuer that would remove the current expiration of the half-penny sales tax in 2039. Also, the MTA Board would be required to vote to place a Measure R continuation on the ballot. A Measure R continuation requires a two-thirds approval vote by the people – just as it did in 2008.
Acceleration Timetable (if Measure R is continued):
- Green Line to LAX would open 10 years sooner (2018)
- The Subway to Westwood would open 13 years sooner (2023)
- The Green Line extension in the South Bay would open 17 years sooner (2018)
- Gold Line to Whittier or El Monte would open 15 years sooner (2020)
- A new project in Southeast LA County – the West Santa Ana Branch – would open eight years sooner (2019)
Mayor Villaraigosa said during his State of the City address that he is going to keep pressure on the US House of Representatives to pass America Fast Forward, a national transportation loan program that would allow localities to speed up the construction of locally-funded road and rail projects by providing flexible, low-interest loans from the federal government. America Fast Forward has the support of both the AFL-CIO and the US Chamber of Commerce. It also has the support of 188 mayors across the country. As part of the Surface Transportation Bill, America Fast Forward passed the US Senate on March 14, 2012, with a bipartisan vote of 74-22. Since then, the transportation bill has hit a roadblock in the US House of Representatives.
“America needs America Fast Forward. It would create 1 million jobs across this country. That’s why both the AFL-CIO and the US Chamber of Commerce support it,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “But we in Los Angeles are not going to wait for Washington. . .We will be asking voters to continue Measure R until the voters themselves decide to end it.”
During his speech, and on the heels of the dissolution of the State’s Community Redevelopment Agency, the Mayor also unveiled a proposed City economic development entity. Over the past six years, the Mayor’s Office has focused on making it easier to do business in Los Angeles. Developers no longer have to go to more than a dozen different departments for project guidance, new businesses don't have to pay the Los Angeles business tax for the first three years, and the Mayor’s Office of Small Business was created to develop sound and strategic policies that will meet the needs of our local small businesses. Additionally, the recently enacted Local Preference Ordinance gives local businesses an eight percent competitive advantage when they bid on the more than 2,000 City contracts each year. The City has also spearheaded Los Angeles Regional Export Council which will streamline our export services infrastructure.
“We are focused on changing the way Los Angeles does business so that is it easier to do business in Los Angeles,” Mayor Villaraigosa continued. “Our initiatives have added significantly to our economic development toolkit, but one especially critical tool is missing. We need an entity that can target City Hall’s woeful lack of customer focus.“
The goals of the entity will be to create private sector jobs, generate revenue, and encourage economic equity. The Mayor’s budget, which will be released later this week, includes $2.5 million in initial funding for this entity. The initial funds will be matched with strategic investment by foundations and the private sector.
Fact sheets on Measure R and the Mayor’s Office business initiatives, quotes about the continuation of Measure R, and the full text of the State of the City address in English and Spanish are attached.