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Measure J, which would have extended Los Angeles County’s half-cent sales tax increase for an additional 30 years to accelerate transportation projects, has failed to reach the two-thirds voter approval it required.
The funding was expected to streamline some projects that are currently underway, such as the Westside Subway Connector and the Expo Line. However, 64.72 percent of voters approved the measure, which needed 66.66 percent to pass.
While officials with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) lamented the election results, Metro CEO Art Leahy said an extension could be pursued again in the future.
“Metro remains focused on delivering a dozen new transit projects and fifteen highway improvement projects that voters approved four years ago in passing Measure R,” Leahy said. “In fact, within two years, Metro should be overseeing simultaneous construction of five major rail projects. Also, the Measure R transit sales tax — approved in 2008 by more than 2 million voters — continues until 2039, so Metro directors have the option of asking voters in the future if they wish to extend the program.”
While Metro officials would have liked to see the measure pass, officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) were very pleased with the voting results of Prop. 30, which imposes a 1 to 3 percent tax on incomes of more than $250,000 for the next seven years. The measure is expected to stop $6 billion in state budget cuts.
“Imperative would be an understatement,” LAUSD board member Steve Zimmer, 4th District, said.
He said it was uplifting to see people come together to benefit children, especially in L.A. County, which “catapulted” the results in favor of Prop. 30. Zimmer said he doesn’t believe there is another school district in the country that has been impacted so heavily by the economic downturn.
“We haven’t done anything [but lobby] for two weeks, because this is so important for our kids,” he added. “We know that’s it’s not their fault. It’s morally wrong to have a child suffer for a crisis [they] didn’t create.”
Zimmer said the approval of Prop. 30 will stop additional education cuts and continue the funding stream for the district. He said it will allow education funding to stabilize in L.A. County, and then it will bring revenue within two or three years.
“This is not an immediate cash-out,” Zimmer said. “[Voters] should think of this as an investment that will start bringing returns over time.”
While this is good news for the district, officials must now address enrollment decreases to prevent future reduction-in-force notices for teachers, he said.
“What we did yesterday was stabilize our schools where they’re at. The second part of our job is to address declining enrollment,” Zimmer said, adding that the district had to invest money in programs that parents want. “This is not a bait and switch. To make sure we don’t have layoffs, we have to make sure we stabilize enrollment.”
He also praised voters for passing Prop. 39, which alters tax laws applying to multi-state businesses. Proponents have claimed that the measure could produce as much as $1 billion in additional revenues. Zimmer is hopeful that some of the funding could benefit LAUSD.
“I would certainly be advocating almost immediately that schools need to [be considered] when that revenue comes in,” he said.
Lastly, Democrats now enjoy a super-majority within the State Assembly. Zimmer said the Republican minority has made it difficult, if not impossible, to lobby for “reasonable revenue generation” in the Legislature for the last six years.
“The totality of every thing that happened last night in the election … is probably the most hopeful moment for public education funding in the last decade — easily,” he said, adding that there is still plenty of work to do. “I think we may have finally broken through the revenue vs. reform logjam. If that is in fact the case, it’s a great moment for our kids.”
County voters also approved Measure B by a margin of 55.8 to 44.1 percent, which will require condom usage in adult films. Measure B was authored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
AHF president Michael Weinstein said it will safeguard adult film performers and members of the public, because performers can infect people outside the industry.
“It has significance beyond porn. The fact that the people of Los Angeles County took up a sensitive subject without flinching is really a sign of the times,” he said. “We have come to a time when there is an understanding of the importance of safer sex, and we have come to an understanding about controlling the spread of these diseases. I hope we don’t have to battle to get enforcement.”
Weinstein said it will take an undetermined period of time to establish a structure for implementing Measure B. Adult film producers will be charged a fee when applying for a permit, which will fund the cost of inspections on adult film sets. Some representatives of the adult film industry denounced Measure B’s passage Wednesday, and vowed to make their films outside of Los Angeles County.
Additionally, voters decided against Props. 31, 32, 33, 34, 37 and 38. Prop. 35, which increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, passed overwhelmingly. A measure to revise the three strikes law to impose a life sentence only when a new felony conviction is serious or violent, Prop. 36, passed. Voters also approved the new State Senate boundaries, via Prop. 40. Measure A, a county ballot measure, failed.
Editor Edwin Folven contributed to this story.
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