Bloomberg News

California Should Ease Road-Tax Votes, Villaraigosa Says

April 09, 2013

California should lower the vote threshold for approving new roads, highways and transportation projects to a majority from two-thirds, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in his final state-of-the-city speech.

Villaraigosa, who has led the second most-populous U.S. metropolis since 2005, said such a change would need an amendment to the state Constitution, which requires a supermajority to pass special taxes and a simple majority for general local taxes.

“For too long, a small minority has been able to cast a veto on our collective future,” said Villaraigosa, 60, a Democrat who leaves office June 30 because of term limits. Cities risk losing federal matching funds when voters reject transportation taxes, he said in the speech yesterday.

From 2001 to November, 58 local special taxes for transportation have fallen short of the two-thirds threshold for passage, while 37 passed, according to data compiled by Michael Coleman, a fiscal adviser to California municipalities.

In 2000, California voters agreed to lower the minimum for certain school-bond measures to 55 percent.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net


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