Following the near-miss Measure J, a 2012 ballot proposition that would have extended Los Angeles’ half-cent sales tax for transportation projects, local legislatures began examining a “fix” to state law. Despite Measure J receiving over 66% of the vote, it failed to reach the 2/3 threshold required by law.
ACA 8, Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, will give voters a chance to reset that threshold through a constitutional amendment if the tax would go for infrastructure improvements.* If passed by the Senate, it would place a measure on the November 2014 ballot to reduce the threshold for passage of local infrastructure bond measures to 55% from the current two-thirds, the same threshold that currently applies to school bond measures.
It only takes a majority vote to pass an amendment to California’s constitution at the ballot box.
“ACA 8 will free local communities to determine for themselves the level at which they wish to invest in infrastructure projects and enhance their quality of life,” Blumenfield concluded.
But now Blumenfield sits on the Los Angeles City Council. So what does that mean for ACA 8? Apparently very little. The proposed Constitutional Constitutional Amendment was passed by the Assembly in June, on Blumenfield’s last day in office. It is awaiting a hearing in the Senate’s Governance and Finance Committee before moving on to the full Senate. Blumenfield’s job change has no impact on the legislation’s progress.
For the many groups that fought for the passage of Measure J in 2012, Blumenfield’s Constitutional Amendment is a sort of holy grail. Barring a major shift in public opinion, a 55% yes vote for a transit tax extension such as Measure J would be easier to attain. After all, Measure J just missed receiving a two thirds vote just last year. In Alameda County, a 2012 vote on a transit tax was even closer.
“Los Angeles’s infrastructure simply does not make the grade,” said Blumenfield. “Each dollar invested in infrastructure creates a seven dollar return to our economy and every $1 billion invested creates 18,000 jobs and helps ensure our state’s competitiveness Time and again, however, infrastructure bonds have failed at the ballot box with overwhelming majorities of the electorate, while falling just short of the two-thirds threshold.”
In 2012, the Los Angeles County Infrastructure Report awarded Los Angeles County an overall “C” grade. Much of California’s infrastructure was designed and built over 40 years ago to accommodate a population of 25 million. California’s current population of 38 million is expected to rise to 60 million by 2050.
he Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution, authored by Blumenfield, endorsing ACA 8 last week.
* Rick Orlov mentioned the legislation in yesterday’s Daily News, and it caused some confusion. Just a note, this measure would do nothing to impact the amount of votes it would take to repeal Proposition 13.