Metro officials endorse measure to extend half-cent sales tax

Los Angeles County transportation officials on Thursday endorsed a proposed ballot measure that would extend a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects by 30 years.

Measure R, which was passed by voters in 2008, currently ends in 2039. If voters passed the proposed measure, which would be on the November presidential ballot, it would end in 2069.

If it passes, officials plan to borrow against future revenues to help expedite the transit projects funded by Measure R, including the Westside Subway Extension, so workers can break ground on the efforts in five years instead of 20. They would also need billions of dollars in federal loans to make that happen.

"This is going to be the purest form of democracy, let the voters decide," said board member Ara Najarian. "We owe it to the voters to let them have their say, with all the information we can give them."

But there was significant debate over the issue at Thursday's meeting of the Metro Board of Directors where Los Angeles County Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich, Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas voted against the measure (it passed 10 – 3).

They called Metro's decision premature and hasty while trying to both delay the vote and knock down the measure, to no avail.

The measure must also be approved by the Board of Supervisors and state Legislature before it can be placed on the November ballot.

— Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times

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