• Gov. Brown signed legislation clearing the way for a ballot proposal to raise the sales tax to pay for LA transportation improvements.
  • The tax extension and increase could raise $120 billion over 40 years.
  • According to polls, residents support the tax plan.

As December wound down, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow Los Angeles County officials to put a sales tax increase on the ballot in 2016 to raise billions for a slate of transportation projects.

It is projected that the sales tax hike, to 9.5 percent, could bring in $120 billion for a variety of road and transit projects that could change the commuting landscape in LA. 


If the Metropolitan Transportation Authority decides to proceed to the ballot, voters would probably be asked to raise the county’s overall sales tax rate from the current 9 percent. But, they already have plans for the cash.

Yusef El-Mansouri / Shutterstock.com

Yusef El-Mansouri / Shutterstock.com

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority would be the entity asking for the hike. They have successfully gone to the voters three times since 1980. The most recently approved levy, 2008’s Measure R, which has already funded new rail lines and a subway, would be extended.

The extension would push out the taxing power of Measure R for almost 20 more years, and tack on a new sales tax that would have a lifespan of four decades.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a poll conducted earlier this year and funded by the transit authority found that more than two-thirds of county residents would support such a measure. Two-thirds of the voters who show up at the polls is what the measure needs to pass. Nearly two-thirds of poll respondents said improvements to streets or freeways were their top priority. About one-fourth preferred light-rail and bus projects.

The transit authority has its sights on five high-impact projects that would be funded with the tax proceeds. The projects would take years to complete.

  • Tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass – San Fernando Valley to LAX
  • Subway extension to Santa Monica – extend the Purple Line to the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Rail connection to LAX – completing a missing link to the transit system
  • Rail connection in Mid-City -rail extension north-south through Hollywood and Mid-City
  • A rail line to the San Fernando Valley

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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