Last week the LACMTA Board released its plan for a new tax measure set to be on the November 2016 ballot. The new tax measure is predicted to raise $120 Billion by extending the current half cent sales tax from Measure R, and imposing and additional half cent sales tax over the next 40 years. In order to pass, the measure will need a 2/3 majority support from the voters.
From the beginning of the planning stages, SMART has been involved in providing input and advocacy to ensure that 25% of the funds raised would be devoted to Operations just like it had been in Measure R. The Operations portion is what pays for the continued bus and rail service to include fuel, facilities, and employees. Unlike Measure R, the authorization from the California State Legislature did not include the 25% operations provision over the numerous objections from General Committee 875 and the SMART CA State Legislative Board. We had numerous meetings with LA Metro Management, Mayor Eric Garcetti, the LA County Supervisors and LACMTA Board members to stress the importance of the Operations portion in the tax measure. Furthermore, it was communicated that without a minimum of 25% for Operations (20% for bus & 5% for rail) that not only could SMART not support the tax measure but that we may even need to oppose it.
In the draft released to the public last week, we were gratified to see the 25% for Operations included in the tax measure proposal. If the voters approve, the measure could generate $30 Billion to help provide for bus and rail operations for the next 40 years. The LACMTA will take the next 60 days to accept public comment and recommendations before releasing its final draft in June. General Committee 875 will continue to monitor any changes in the draft and ensure that the operations budget remains intact.
Once the LACMTA releases its final draft, we will take time to analyze the final plan before making a recommendation of endorsement. This is a huge plan with billions of dollars at stake. If done right, the new tax measure could ensure not only the stability of public transportation but its wide expansion across LA County and the high quality jobs that comes with it.