Editorial: What L.A. needs from Mayor Karen Bass
On Friday, November 18, the City Council will debate and adopt a long-awaited and highly contested bond measure approving funding for the long-delayed and politically-charged $8.7 billion dollar, long overdue replacement of the streetlights and other capital infrastructure in Los Angeles, as well as for the construction of a new Los Angeles International Airport. The bond measure would be the first to be voted on (along with any other tax and fee increases), thus it is an early test of how well the bond measure can be approved and funded by the voters and its ability to be implemented.
L.A. needs to get it right on this measure, and quickly. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and as such the city must make sure it gets it right for all involved.
Los Angeles voters will be asked to invest $2.3 billion dollars in the city over the next 10 years in the form of tax and fee increases, increased city police staffing, and a higher sales tax on retail items (the measure is currently on track to increase the city sales tax from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent on a $100 purchase – an increase of two-tenths of one percent). And while voters will be asked to invest $2,700 per pupil in schools over the next 10 years, the bond measure also includes $1.5 billion dollars in a school construction bond measure.
The city’s budget deficit, currently at $100 million dollars, is expected to grow to over $800 million dollars over the next 10 years, even if the tax and fee increases are kept in place.
And unlike every city bond measure that has been passed since the mid 1960s, the revenue from the proposed tax and fee increases will now be spread among a much larger number of local school districts – an area that has been sorely underfunded by the state ever since the 1970s.
If approved by the voters – and it’s worth noting that the bond measure likely has only a slim majority of votes in favor of it – then the city’s current bond spending plan, which is well over $5 billion