Measure R 2 (or 2.1) Season Is Underway

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 767 authorizing Metro to place a sales tax on a future ballot to fund transportation growth.The ballot measure would likely appear on the 2016 fall ballot, along with the presidential race, Congressional races and a variety of local races.

We’re back!

Within minutes of the signing, Move L.A. released a statement praising the signing and declaring that this time, they will get the a new transportation tax passed.

“It’s time to double down on Measure R!,” beamed Denny Zane, Move L.A.’s executive director.

“We’ll have the right measure, the right coalition and the right campaign — remember that in 2012 the bill authorizing Metro to put Measure J on the ballot wasn’t signed until 2 months before the election, making it difficult for supporters to put together a winning campaign,” he said in the statement.

Zane is referring to the 2012 campaign to pass Measure J, which extended a previous sales tax to accelerate the project list created by 2008’s Measure R. Measure J failed to pass, earning a mere 66.1% of the vote. Measure R earned 66.9% of the vote. With two-thirds of the vote needed to pass a new tax, that .8% is the difference between “just passing” and “just missing.”

Move L.A. has been advocating for a new sales tax pretty much since the moment Measure R passed seven years ago. After the near miss in 2012, Zane has stumped for the new tax, worked hard to build a diverse coalition, and floated a variety proposals: the so-called “strawman” lists. The Los Angeles Times has a list of projects for the most-recent strawman.

But ultimately, the decision on whether or not to move forward with a new sales tax measure now rides with the Metro Board of Directors. Current Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas seems slightly less enthusiastic than Zane*, but still interested in exploring the opportunity.

“Angelenos have been tremendously supportive of measures that help build and expand our transportation system ‎and reduce congestion,” Ridley-Thomas wrote in a statement. “The signing of this bill will allow Metro to continue to work with local stakeholders to determine whether to proceed with a measure for the November 2016 ballot.”

The public process requires that the Metro Board of Directors decide on a proposed sales tax amount and decide how the money will be spent. The proposal will need to be approved by both the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the Metro Board of Directors before going to the ballot where it will need a two-thirds majority to pass.

The Measure R and Measure J coalitions have included organized labor, business associations, transportation reform organizations and community groups. Opposing the measures were community organizations opposed to projects that would be funded by the measures, the Bus Rider’s Union and government organizations in Beverly Hills.

* To be fair, I was “slightly less enthusiastic than Zane” when the Cubs jumped to an early lead on the Pirates last night. I was pretty darn enthusiastic.

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The issue of whether or not Measure R+, our temporary name for a proposed ballot initiative to extend the 2008 transportation sales tax, will be on the fall ballot will be much clearer in a couple of days.  The Metro Board of Directors will vote on whether or not to place the initative on the […]