Proposed MTA fee a gas tax in disguise?
Allows some organizations to levy charges at the gas pump
A state Assembly committee began considering a bill last week that would allow the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to put proposed gas fees before voters that would require a simple majority approval, rather than a two-thirds majority.
Revenue from the fees would be used to fund transit, bike and pedestrian projects that can be proven to relieve traffic. The funds could also be used to build toll lanes or to make safety and maintenance improvements to highwaysand bridges.
The bill, introduced by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), would allow local planning and transportation organizations to levy congestion-reduction charges at the gas pump, if a majority of voters approve the fees.
The fees could be in place for up to 30 years and corresponding charges would be added to the vehicle registration of electric car owners.
In November 2010, voters approved Proposition 26, which forced state and local governments to begin treating fees and surcharges like taxes, requiring a two-thirds voter approval to assess new fees. However, the law provided exceptions for new fees that provide benefits specifically to those who pay the fees.
Proponents of the bill, SB 791, argue an anti-congestion fee would meet that criteria, benefiting those who would pay the new fees, namely drivers.
In 2008, more than two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase to fund 12 major transit projects, including a subway to Westwood and extensions to the Gold Line light rail into the San Gabriel Valley.
Move L.A. executive director and former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane said it was a miracle Measure R passed with a two-thirds vote in the face of a broad economic calamity.
The California Taxpayers Association, which sponsored Proposition 26, said Steinberg’s bill would not qualify as an exception.
“This bill is a gas tax plain and simple,” spokesman David Kline said. “Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion.”
The Federal Transit Administration gave the approval for construction to begin on Metro’s $1.76 billion light rail line along Crenshaw Boulevard that will run from the Green Line near Los Angeles International Airport to the Expo Line.
The FTA approved the final environmental impact report for the 8.5-mile line. The report still needs approval by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is expected to vote on the report at its Sept. 22 board meeting.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A $546 million federal loan will enable the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to begin building an 8.5-mile light rail line from the Crenshaw District to near LAX next spring, creating about 5,000 jobs.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Voters will decide today whether to extend a half-cent sales tax for an additional 30 years to accelerate public transit and highway projects, including the Westside Subway Extension and transit to Los Angeles International Airport.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is holding a series of public hearings to obtain input from citizens on proposed service changes to metro bus lines.
Locally the transit agency is proposing the following:
• Reduce the frequency of Line 40 and add larger capacity buses
• Modify route 620 to serve First Street and Mott Avenue
• Assign smaller capacity buses to route 710 and increase the frequency
• Put smaller business on Line 740 and increase frequency
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The county’s transportation authority today suspended changes to a handful of Metro bus lines that were scheduled to go into effect on Sunday.
The agency made the unusual last minute decision because it needed more time to analyze the affects the changes would have on riders in light of recent changes to federal and state regulations, a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman said.