ACA 4 Would Lower Voter Threshold to 55% For A Local Transportation Sales Tax

Legislation introduced by California Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) would reduce the voter threshold for approval of local tax measures for transportation from 66.6% to 55% and make the change effective immediately for other measures on the ballot. We urge you to call or write him to express your support for this bill — ACA 4!

The fact that the bill includes language that would make it effective immediately upon adoption and apply to concurrent ballot measures can really galvanize and energize support, and it enhances the likelihood there would be coordinated local campaigns. For example, if another sales tax measure for transportation is put on the 2016 ballot in LA County, as is being discussed, advocates for that sales tax measure could simultaneously support ACA 4.

We all know that an effective transportation system is essential to both a healthy economy and a healthy environment. We believe that lowering the threshold for transportation funding is a critical reform that is needed because communities are having a very hard time finding money to expand or even just maintain their transportation systems.

Throughout the U.S. an increasingly number of cities and counties are relying on local voter-supported sales tax measures to provide funding for transportation infrastructure improvements. In California it has been particularly difficult because of the requirement for a 2/3 supermajority vote for local funding measures has set a very high bar that makes it extremely difficult to pass these initiatives.

In Orange County, for example, Measure M has provided the funding to improve Metrolink and connecting bus services — and it passed with a bare majority vote in 1991 (before the required voter threshold was increased to 2/3). San Bernardino County’s Measure I was approved by a bare majority in 1989, as was Measure A in Riverside County, which was passed in 1988.

All three measures have been essential to improving the mobility of residents but only the extensions of these sales tax measures were able to win a 2/3 supermajority vote — voters have shown a greater willingness to approve extensions of sales taxes than new sales taxes. Had the 2/3 requirement been in place when the measures were first adopted, Southern California’s transportation system would have likely been in pretty bad shape.

In LA County voters have passed 3 local sales tax measures. Proposition A in 1980 and Proposition C in 1990 passed with a bare majority — like the measures cited above. Only Measure R in 2008 made the 2/3 threshold, winning 67.8% of the vote. If Prop A and Prop C had to meet the 2/3 threshold LA County would have had little money to support the expansion of its bus fleet or operations or to start building the Red Line subway or the Blue Line — the busiest light rail line in the U.S.

Moreover, local funds can be leveraged to bring in both state and federal funding. Since passage of Measure R, for example, the federal government has provided LA County with an additional $3 billion to in grants and low-interest loans — more federal funding than LA has ever received in a 5-year period.

Please join us and support ACA 4 — you can sign on to our letter of support HERE by calling Jerard Wright on our staff at 310-310-2390 x 106.



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