It was billed as an event of “Biblical proportions” – Democrats and Republicans, labor and the Chamber of Commerce all backing a creative transit funding proposal from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who's been pushing this plan for more than two years.
Villaraigosa wants to start building LA County transit projects now, not 30 years down the road when a voter-approved .5 cent sales tax can pay for it. He’s convinced more than 100 mayors to back his “America Fast Forward” proposal for federal loans and credit guarantees.
Now he’s got support from the powerful Republican chair of the House Transportation committee, John Mica of Florida. At a press conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Mica said, "we’ve gotta find creative ways to finance. The country’s broke."
At that same conference, the heads of the AFL/CIO and of the US Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, said they're also on board.
"I’m here because of a deeply held conviction by the Chamber that to be competitive in a global market, to put people back to work, we’ve gotta go out and put a great infusion of energy and money into our infrastructure and create the jobs that America needs," Donohue said.
Democrat Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said all agree that boosting available money for transportation loans will allow LA and other cities to leverage local money for big projects.
The US House and Senate are expected to tackle a multi-year transportation bill this spring.