The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing a raid on transit riders and taxpayers to fund a network of rail projects and highway expansions. In doing so, the MTA will gut its most successful and cost-effective transit project—the bus system. The MTA already takes one cent on the dollar for every taxable purchase in L.A. County, which generates $1.4 billion a year; this proposed additional sales tax would generate close to $40 billion in 30 years.
The sales tax is regressive because the rich and the poor have to pay the same amount—and the poor cannot afford it. The increased sales tax would only aggravate the very conditions of racial discrimination—building rail by raiding the bus system—that led to the Bus Riders Union’s 1994 lawsuit against the MTA, brought under provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The MTA funds rail projects (subways cost about $350 million a mile to build) that serve development interests and a more white, more affluent ridership not low-income, transit-dependent riders that are Latino, black or Asian-Pacific Islander, and more than 60% of them are women.
The MTA board is out of step with global-warming science and policy. With 20% of the sales-tax funds planned for highways, and the majority for rail boondoggles, is a deadly combination to willfully dismantle the bus system, L.A. will continue to be the most polluted city in the U.S. To get elected officials from Los Angeles County to support this tax, each was promised at least one rail line in their district. The MTA admits that its total budget for these projects adds up to about $60 billion, and many experts estimate that it will take at least $80 billion to finish them between 2015 and 2020. So even if the MTA raises $40 billion over the life of the 30-year sales-tax increase, this leaves MTA with the inevitable “unethical choice” of raiding bus funds to complete their out-of-control construction cost and will probably have to ask taxpayers for more—combined with fare increases and service cuts.
And while MTA officials, rail boosters and corporate developers will highlight the additional “funding” for buses and the “whopping” one-year fare freeze guaranteed under this sales tax as they attempt to win over bus riders; the reality is that MTA officials and State Legislatures have created a flimsy, vague and ultimately raid-able funding category with no real detail and no real language to expand the bus system or to reverse MTA’s plan to increase fares every two years over the next 30 years. In 1994, four years after MTA had won a voter approved second ½ cent sale tax (Prop C)—MTA Board had run the bus system to the ground and voted to eliminate the monthly bus pass and raise fares to upkeep their racially discriminatory policies to raid bus funds to expand rail that led to the BRU Title VI civil rights lawsuit and eventual signing of the 10-year MTA/BRU Consent Decree to remedy MTA’s ‘separate and unequal’ transit policies.
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Measure R in the News (see more...)
L.A. tax measures could be a tough sell on Nov. 4
With so much economic uncertainty, voters are telling politicians they're unsure they can handle an additional financial burden.
Published October 10th, 2008 (read article)
Los Angeles Times
L.A. County transit agency removes Measure R material from website
The Metropolitan Transportation Agency acts after receiving complaints that its promotion of the sales-tax increase was an improper use of public funds.
Published September 12, 2008 (read article)
Los Angeles Times
Metro Sales-Tax Shell Game
A $40 billion promise fuels suspicion of an agency that has lied large before.
Published on August 14, 2008 (read article)
The MTA's sales-tax boondoggle
By Eric Mann and Manuel Criollo
L.A.'s transit authority already has enough of our money to improve its most crucial network -- the bus system.
Published July 31, 2008 (read op-ed)
Radio and Audio Segments (see more...)
90.7fm KPFK Morning Review with Roy Ulrich
Eric Mann Debates Assemblyperson Mark Feuer on the 1/2 cent sales tax
Broadcast September 4th, 2008
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Environmental Initiatives Forum
Manuel Criollo and Assemblyperson Feuer debate on Sales Tax
Recorded on September 4th, 2008
Recorded from a program hosted by the GreenLA Coalition, Liberty Vote, and the League of Conservation Voters
on September 4
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