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LA Metro Wants Sales Tax Hike to Last Forever

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An earlier plan called for the half-cent tax increase to expire in 40 years

Metro has big plans to vastly improve public transportation across Los Angeles, and it wants residents to chip in to pay for it—forever.

The agency had initially said it was considering putting on the November ballot a half-cent sales tax that would expire in 40 to 50 years, a plan that Metro says would generate $74 billion. But today, Metro officials announced they are making a drastic change: They want the tax hike to last in perpetuity, or at least until voters decide to put an end to it.

"The new plan is in response to the vast amount of feedback heard from the public and elected officials, cities and stakeholders on the draft spending plan for the 40-year ballot measure plan that was released in March. The most frequently heard sentiment: people wanted more from the spending plan," Metro said in a press release.

The Metro’s board of directors is scheduled to vote June 23 whether to put the ballot measure before voters. Here's a draft of the new proposed ballot language:

To improve freeway traffic flow/safety; repair potholes; repave local streets; earthquake retrofit bridges; synchronize signals; keep senior/disabled/student fares affordable; expand rail/subway/bus systems; improve job/school/airport connections; and create jobs; shall voters authorize a Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan through a 1/2 (cent) sales tax and continue the existing 1/2 (cent) traffic relief tax until voters decide to end it, with independent audits/oversight and all funds controlled locally?

Two-thirds of voters would have to approve the measure for it to pass.

Metro says its polling shows 72 percent of people support the idea of not putting an end date on the tax hike.

Among the projects that would be funded: A train line for West Hollywood; a Green Line subway extension into the South Bay; a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass.

If the sales tax doesn't have an expiration date, Metro says it can accelerate certain projects and add two more: the second phase of the Gold Line Eastside extension and the "high desert multi-purpose corridor."