Joblessness in Los Angeles has been cut in half. And now new spending on transit projects could inject tens of billions of dollars into the Southern California economy and create over 400,000 new jobs, city officials and business leaders say.
In his annual State of the City address, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti highlighted how much a half-cent transit sales tax approved by voters eight years ago is adding to the regional economy — an expected $80.7 billion over three decades. And that doesn’t include the $120 billion in direct spending in transit projects if voters agree on a 1-cent transit sales tax measure proposed for the November ballot.
In 2008, voters across Los Angeles County approved bond Measure R, a 30-year half-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax designed to ease traffic gridlock. Proponents of the tax trumpeted its $52.4 billion in budgeted projects, from the Metro Orange Line extension to Chatsworth to light rail lines across the region to a widening of Interstate 5.
Now the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is advocating for a new ballot measure in November that would add to Measure R. The proposed Measure R2 tax, aimed at further easing gridlock across the region for the next half century, will require two-thirds approval by voters.
During his address, Garcetti cited a study commissioned by the MTA that projected how much the current voter-approved Measure R would benefit the five-county Southern California region. Over the 30-year life of the tax measure, its projects will contribute $426,980 jobs and $80.7 billion in economic output, while total spending on proposed highway and transit projects would be at least $51.1 billion. To pay for it, the L.A. County Economic Development Corp. has estimated it would cost each resident $25 in sales taxes per year.
For Mayor Garcetti, it was all about job growth. “Economic prosperity translates into a better life for all of us,” said Garcetti.