BRU ‘Blowsback’ at Metro’s Sales Tax Proposal

One week after Metro moved a half cent sales tax to the fall ballot, the Bus Rider’s Union launched it’s first attack in the press against what it terms, "The MTA’s sales-tax boondoggle" in today’s on-line "Blowback" section of the Times.

The BRU breaks their attack into two arguments: that the funds generated by the sales tax are going to the wrong projects and that the funds are being generated by a regressive tax that hurts the poor.  By casting LA County as a modern day Nottingham with Sheriff Villaraigosa and Metro acting as the black knight tax collectors, they are trying to change the discussion from the Mayor’s vision of a transit oriented Los Angeles he presented in the Times last week.  Remember, it needs a two-thirds majority of votes to pass the ballot in the fall and a large campaign against the tax could keep it from getting near that threshold.

These arguments aren’t anything we haven’t heard in some form or another before.  According the the BRU, the tax is wasteful because such a large portion of it goes to rail and highway expansion projects.  Instead of spending 60% of its $40 billion in sales tax proceeds on these projects, "for the rich," the BRU proposes spending under $12 billion to double Metro’s bus fleet to 4,400 buses and maintain the current fare on these buses.

Instead, the MTA proposes a sales-tax increase to build up to $80
billion in rail and highway projects. This raises fiscal mismanagement
and racial discrimination to an indictable level. Right out of a
Charles Dickens or Richard Wright novel, the MTA asks bus riders to
support rail projects, the poor to support the rich, the
transit-dependent to support the contractors, and the public to support
politicians’ own ambitions.

Rumors are swirling that Mayor Villaraigosa is raising millions of dollars to support the sales tax proposal through a coordinated media campaign and other transit advocates are planning a grassroots campaign.  As each side has revealed their messaging in the Times in recent weeks, it will be interesting to see how support for the tax reacts to the information and spin as we get closer to November 4.

Photo: TheStrategyCenter/Flickr 

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