LA Mayor Stakes His Legacy on Transit Plan

Stymied by multiple attempts to leverage one of his key political victories as mayor - the passage of a half-cent tax increase to fund transit in LA - Villaraigosa announced another bid to speed up the expansion of the region's mass transit system.
April 20, 2012, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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As David Zahniser, Ari Bloomekatz and Kate Linthicum report, the defining proposal delivered by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during his penultimate State of the City speech this past week, an effort to ask voters to make permanent the 30-year sales tax increase passed in 2008, "marks perhaps a last chance to jump-start what he hopes will be the cornerstone of his legacy: dramatically expanding rail service in L.A."

"With congressional Republicans blocking his effort to tap a major source of federal financing, Villaraigosa is turning once again to the voters - hoping they will extend a half-cent sales tax increase he backed four years ago beyond its 2039 expiration date. The move would allow officials to borrow against nearly 50 years of future tax revenue and quickly raise an additional $8 billion for highway and transit projects."

One of the large questions, echoed by County Supervisor and MTA board member Mark Ridley-Thomas, is whether the county's transit agency, Metro, would even have the capacity to efficiently manage and build so many major rail projects simultaneously.

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Published on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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