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Antonio Villaraigosa

Washington Post Columnist: Measure R a National Guide to Economic Recovery

8:15 AM PST on March 10, 2010

3_10_10_zane.jpgCutting edge? Zane rallies the troops for "30 in 10."

In a sure sign that the "30 in 10" plan to accelerate all Measure R transit projects to be completed within a decade, national media is picking up the story and praising Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for providing a new model of federal stimulus for America.

In Today's Washington Post, columnist Harold Meyerson praises Angelenos, Villaraigosa, and all of the special interests that decided that taxing themselves in the name of infrasructure by helping to pass Measure R at the ballot box in 2008.  From there, he goes on to explain how the "30 in 10" plan isn't just a good idea, but a groundbreaking one:

Now, Los Angeles is asking Washington for loans -- not grants, mind you-- to be repaid with that sales tax revenue, to accelerate saidconstruction so that it can be done in one decade rather than three. Inother words, to help finance a major environmental and stimulus programthat won't add to the federal deficit. It's an idea so novel thatWashington's initial reaction was befuddlement...

...If the work could be accomplished in 10 years, as the mayor nowproposes, it would engender more than 150,000 construction jobs smackin the part of the country that is home to more unemployed constructionworkers than any other. It would also save nearly $4 billion byavoiding the presumably higher costs of labor and materials in, say,2030.

Sounds great, doesn't it?  However, like all political stories, there's a villain.  This time, the villain is a government bureaucracy that isn't conditioned to work with ideas that are too forward thinking in how money is going to be raised and spent.

The feds, however, are accustomed to spending, not lending, theirmoney. When Los Angeles initially sought not an appropriation but aloan, nobody in Washington knew how to respond. "They laughed," saysVillaraigosa. "They said they didn't have a program that could dothis."

The rest of the piece is basically a breakdown of what the federal government would have to do to make "30 in 10" a reality.  Given that both U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood have gone on the record in support of the plan, it doesn't seem like such a heavy lift for the government to make slight alterations in some USDOT programs or change the way "Build America" bonds are handed out.

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