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Los Angeles California Sales Tax For Transit Moving Forward


In November 2008, Los Angeles, California, “…a car-addled region of 10 million people…overwhelmingly back[ed] a ballot initiative” called “Measure R” to increase the sales tax by a half-cent. The increase is supposed to “… net $40-billion over 30 years for transit expansion, highway improvements and other local upgrades, including bike paths.”

In order to accelerate the development of the projects proposed (including light rail and subway projects), the city made a deal with the federal government to receive monies up front.  These loans helped to jump-start the 12 light rail and bus rapid transit lines that have begun construction since “Measure R” passed.  In addition, “…the strategy, known as the ‘Fast Forward America’ plan, will create half a million construction jobs and help lift the region out of its economic doldrums.”

According to The Globe and Mail, “The sheer speed of L.A.’s transformation into a transit city is a textbook example of metropolitan consensus-building, and stands in sharp contrast to the situation,” in other cities such as Toronto, Canada. Toronto’s similar rapid growth and discussions on how to solve their transportation issues has met gridlock among politicians. The Globe states, “…the L.A. story could… provide some practical lessons on how decision-makers can break the political gridlock over funding future GTA transit plans, expected to cost over $50-billion in the next two decades.”

It appears this sales tax solution to fund transportation improvements has been met with progress and success so far. “Business leaders, for their part, are supportive of [the Mayor] Mr. Villaraigosa’s game plan, relieved that LA county is finally seeking a solution to the gridlock that bedevils shipping companies and local manufacturers.” The President and CEO of the L.A. County Chamber of Commerce notes that when they were lobbying for support of the measure, “[t]he modest tax hike…was not a hard sell for our members.”

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Avalara Author
Susan McLain
Avalara Author Susan McLain
Susan McLain began her career as a technical writer in technology industries such as satellite networking and medical devices. Her skills encompass technical and marketing writing, usability engineering, verification and validation testing and protocol writing, requirements development, business analysis, technical illustration/graphic design and marketing. She has owned her own business providing service to small to medium sized business and in other positions, she has been in project management, documentation and marketing. She is currently the content specialist for Avalara helping to “make sales tax less taxing.”