- Written by Jack Humphreville
14 Sep 2012
LAWATCHDOG - No sooner had the voters of Los Angeles County approved Measure R in November of 2008, than Mayor Villaraigosa was scheming on how to spend the projected $40 billion of sales tax revenue to be received over the next thirty years in only ten years. This will saddle the next generation of Angelenos with tens of billions in debt.
But $40 billion is not enough for our upwardly mobile Mayor. Now he wants the next three generations of Angelenos to fork over another $50 billion by extending the “one-half cent traffic relief sales tax” by an additional thirty years to 2069.
And predictably, our debt loving mayor is proposing to borrow tens of billions MORE by pledging these future tax revenues as collateral.
No doubt, the Mayor, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (“Metro”), and their self serving cronies in the construction industry will try to bamboozle us with a slick advertising campaign promoting the many benefits of the proposed megaprojects, their urgency, and why their construction needs to be accelerated.
But Measure J, the November ballot measure that proposes to extend the life of the “one-half cent traffic relief sales tax” for an additional thirty years, is not in our best interests.
For openers, the highly politicized Metropolitan Transportation Authority does not have the managerial capability or organizational resources to effectively manage all these complex megaprojects, many of which are not fully engineered or designed. And no doubt this will lead to blown timetables and massive cost overruns, all at our expense.
As it is, Metro is experiencing engineering problems, significant delays, and huge cost overruns on the Expo and Gold Lines.
Measure J and Measure R are also weapons of mass financial destruction.
It will burden future generations with tens of billions of debt, where the tax revenues that would have financed good construction jobs will be diverted to pay billions in interest and principal payments, all to promote the political aspirations of our Mayor and the rest of the Elected Elite and line the pockets of the politically well connected lawyers, consultants, investment bankers, construction companies and their unions, and numerous other leaches and parasites.
For example, the Mayor’s proposed “America Fast Forward” program (originally known as the 30/10 Initiative) relies on massive borrowings, contrary to the more traditional and conservative “pay as you go” model envisioned by voters in 2008.
As a result, we and future Angelenos will be socked with huge interest payments, increasing the cost of these debt financed projects by up to 75%.
In addition to intergenerational theft of tax revenues and jobs, the know it all Metro bureaucracy is also funding unpopular projects such as the 4.5 mile extension of the 710 Freeway north to the 210 Freeway, despite the vehement opposition by the impacted communities, including the City of Los Angeles.
And not to be outdone, our desperate Mayor had the audacity to propose LA Road Works, an “innovative” scam where the City would borrow $800 million to repave a quarter of the City’s streets, secured by $1.4 billion in future Measure R sales taxes revenues to be received over the next 27 years.
But since when does the City of Los Angeles fund every day General Fund operating expenses with long term debt, especially when the pledged sales tax revenues were to be allocated to large scale transportation projects?
While the operational and financial issues are important considerations, the real question is:
“Do we trust Mayor Villaraigosa, the Herb Wesson led City Council, and all their self serving cronies that occupy City Hall with a blank check for an additional $50 billion?”
Of course, these are the same light bulbs who have orchestrated the City’s march to insolvency. The City is projecting a budget deficit of $1.1 billion over the next four years. Its two pension plans are underfunded by $10 billion, and that is based on overly optimistic investment returns. And our lunar cratered streets, the second worst in the nation, and our Third World infrastructure require an investment of over $10 billion.
But despite our dire financial situation, the Mayor Who Broke LA and the fiscally irresponsible leadership of the City Council have done virtually nothing to address the City’s long term Structural Deficit other than “to kick the can down the road.” They have relied on accounting gimmicks (such as deferring raises for our civilian workers and banking police overtime) and one time sources of revenue at the same time they have diverted funds from our infrastructure to help fund the $1.3 billion increase in personnel expense during the profligate Villaraigosa reign.
A NO vote on Measure J will not only protect our wallets, but will send a strong message to City Hall that in the March City elections, Angelenos will not support the proposed doubling of the Documentary Transfer Tax and the 50% increase in the parking tax unless there is a well written ballot measure that requires the City to “Live Within Its Means.”
This common sense charter amendment will require the City to develop and adhere to a Five Year Financial Plan, approve two year balanced budgets based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and, over the next ten years, provide adequate funding for the repair and maintenance of our streets, parks, sidewalks, and the rest of our infrastructure, and for the elimination of the City’s unfunded $10 billion pension liability. The City will also be required to fund any future spending programs or tax cuts.
To put it very simply, without real reform, the Mayor, the City Council, and the other City Hall ring kissers can say good bye to any new taxes and fees, including the extension of Measure R.
Vote NO on Measure J.
Vol 10 Issue 74
Pub: Sept 14, 2012