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California

Gov. Brown signs bill opening door to tax increase for L.A. County transit

Metro Green Line

Passengers board a train at Metro Green Line’s Aviation/LAX Station.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County voters may be asked to approve a half-cent increase in the sales tax for transportation projects to ease traffic gridlock as a result of a measure signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill allows the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to seek approval from voters for a tax increase to continue work done after the approval of Measure R in 2008 by 67% of voters.

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“If the voters agree, L.A. County can expand its transit system, address key highway needs around the county, bolster local transportation programs, and support sustainable development,’’ said Senate leader Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles), who authored SB 767.

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County voters previously approved three half-cent tax increases, in 1980, 1990 and 2008. De Leon cited a study by the Texas Transportation Institute in 2012 that estimated that Los Angeles car commuters are stuck in traffic an average of 61 hours per year, costing about $1,300 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

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FOR THE RECORD

Oct. 8, 9:17 a.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that Los Angeles County voters approved sales tax increases for transportation projects in 1981 and 1991. The measures were approved in 1980 and 1990, but took effect the following years.

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MTA spokesman Rick Jager said the agency board has not decided yet on whether to seek a tax increase, but if it does it would likely be on the November 2016 ballot.

“Angelenos have been tremendously supportive of measures that help build and expand our transportation system ‎and reduce congestion,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas. “The signing of this bill will allow Metro to continue to work with local stakeholders to determine whether to proceed with a measure for the November 2016 ballot.”

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