Villaraigosa calls more taxpayer funds for transit in State of City speech

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L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants voters to designate a permanent half-cent sales tax for transit construction in the notoriously gridlocked city.

Villaraigosa said in remarks prepared for his annual speech to city council Wednesday that the change will speed up rail projects — including a subway extension into the densely-packed Westside.

County voters in 2008 endorsed the half-cent tax boost for transit, which is slated to expire in 2039.

The mayor wants voters in November to back an indefinite extension of the tax. A companion proposal is pending in the state Assembly.

“By extending Measure R we will create jobs, we will relieve traffic congestion, we will complete all of the rail projects in one decade instead of three. With these new resources in place, we can build faster, more efficiently, and at a lower cost to you.”

Villaraigosa has been unable to convince Washington to loan the city billions of dollars to accelerate transportation projects. Despite the setback, the mayor said the city plans to start construction on three more transportation projects next year: the Crenshaw Line, the Regional Connector, The Wilshire Subway.

"This is only the beginning," Villaraigosa said. "And it is not enough. I don’t want anyone to think just about what we accomplished."

The mayor also said he'll ask city employees to contribute more to health care to help address deficit and called for the creation of new economic development office.

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