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Measure J Fails to Get Two-Thirds Majority

Countywide ballot measure falls just shy of passage, with 64.72 percent of votes in favor of the traffic relief sales tax.

A half-cent sales tax that would have accelerated rail, highway, bus and transportation improvement projects across the region failed to secure on Tuesday the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. 

The measure earned 64.7 percent of the vote, two percentage points shy of the 66.7 percent threshold.

Measure J would have extended the Measure R sales tax—the half-cent sales tax hike voters approved in 2008—for the next 30 years. 

Despite the measure's failed passage, Metro CEO Art Leahy said the transit authority would continue its work on transportation projects.

"Metro remains focused on delivering a dozen new transit projects and 15 highway improvement projects that voters approved four years ago in passing Measure R," he said in a statement.

And since Measure R continues until 2039, this might not be the last time voters decide whether or not to extend the sales tax, he said.

"Metro directors have the option of asking voters in the future if they wish to extend the program," he said.

Efrain Escobedo, Los Angeles County registrar's executive liaison officer, said ballots are still being counted on Measure J.

"We will add more votes [over the next two weeks]," Escobedo said.

Many are mail-in and provisional ballots, such as those cast by voters who may have gone to a polling location that was no longer theirs.

Measure R is dedicated to the construction and operation of a specified list of transportation projects, including the Westside Subway Extension, the Green Line to LAX and the Gold Line extension east from east Los Angeles and a new transit corridor along the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass.

Measure R received 67.1 percent of the vote in 2008.

The sales tax increase is currently set to last until 2039, and is projected to raise $40 billion in that time period. Approval of the ballot proposal would have extended the tax until 2069.

The Measure J extension would have enabled Metro to continue collecting funds to “bond against” future revenue from the Measure R tax, meaning the agency could estimate the anticipated amount of revenue, sell that amount in bonds to receive the revenue quickly and then pay back bond holders when the money from the sales tax is collected.

A bill authorizing the ballot measure, authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), received California Senate approval in August. Gov. Jerry Brown in late September signed a bill that allowed Metro to place Measure J on the November ballot.

Supporters of extending the tax include Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and the bill's sponsor, Feuer.

"We need to get these transportation projects underway now," Feuer said. "By signing AB 1446, the governor has agreed to empower L.A. County voters to jumpstart 250,000 jobs and break through traffic congestion that chokes our region."

The Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education voted in September to adopt a resolution opposing Measure J.

"Our resolution is designed to send a signal to the MTA letting them know how much we oppose running the subway extension under Beverly Hills High School and how their reckless spending has undermined our confidence in their ability to manage taxpayer funds," board President Brian Goldberg told Patch in September.

Related: Commentary: BHUSD Supports 'Coalition to Defeat Measure J'

The measure would have required Metro to break ground on 15 major transit and highway projects within five years instead of 20 years.

—Patch editor Marie Cunningham contributed to this report.

Do you want Measure J to pass or fail? Tell us in the comments section below.

Dawn November 09, 2012 at 01:39 AM
The reason they needed to extend it to 2069 is because they have already spent (or dedicated) the money out to 2039. That's the fact. They will be back in the spring asking us again. Keep saying NO.
Dawn November 09, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Also the only transportation experience/education the CEO Leahy has is that he used to be a bus driver.
Dawn November 09, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Face it - with Obama's re-election, you will either be worked and taxed to death, or relaxed and collecting freebies, which is turning out to be more profitable than working. We have more freeloaders than workers now, and they voted in their own self interest.
Sharam Tabib November 09, 2012 at 06:56 AM
Thank you Patch for giving us this forum to vent our frustrations with this government... There is a lot to vent
Matthew Sanderson November 09, 2012 at 07:39 AM
You're welcome Sharam! Thanks for the feedback and glad we can help. If you have any questions or concerns, send me an email: matthew.sanderson@patch.com.

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