LA County 1/2 cent sales tax approved for November ballot

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Los Angeles County transportation officials said Thursday they will seek voter approval in November for a half-cent sales tax increase to fund a major expansion of Southern California’s rail and highway network.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors voted 11-2 to place a tax increase proposal on the November ballot that would generate at least $860 million per year for street repairs, highway improvements and new rail construction, including lines in the Sepulveda Pass and Van Nuys and extensions to Claremont and West Hollywood.

Metro’s proposal, one of the most ambitious in modern U.S. history, could transform a traffic-choked region that began building a modern rail system decades after other major cities. The expenditure plan calls for several north-south links in a rail network that runs largely east to west.

The tax, which has no end date, would increase the county’s base sales tax rate to 9.5% and push the rate to 10% in some cities, including Santa Monica and Commerce. If the tax were approved, two cents for every dollar spent in the county would fund transportation improvements. It would require a two-thirds’ vote to pass.

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