As volunteers sweep the state gathering the anticipated 1.2 million signatures needed to comfortably qualify the ballot measure, transit agency lobbyists are also campaigning to drum up support from member organizations and advocacy groups concerned with what some have called the Death of Transit.
Proponents of the initiative, formally known as the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety, and Transportation Protection Act of 2010, sought support from TransForm, a transit and smart growth advocacy non-profit that has yet to take a position, at a meeting also attended by representatives of regional transit agencies like Muni, AC Transit, and the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).
Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association (CTA) and Amy O'Gorman, Regional Public Affairs Director at the League of California Cities, which represents local elected officials like city councilors, urged TransForm and its member organizations to do everything they can to support the initiative and get the word out, even if they haven't formally taken a position.
"Over the last several years, too many bad decisions have been made in Sacramento, not just in transit, but in local issues in general," said CTA's Shaw. "Just like any other vital local service, transit is a subsidized service and it's up to the state to maintain that function."
According to Shaw and O'Gorman, since 1992, state lawmakers have taken $11.2 billion in locally approved tax measures for the general fund, $5 billion of that coming from transit funding sources in the last ten years alone. Other diversions since 2004 have come from local property taxes and redevelopment agencies - $4 billion, according to O'Gorman, who said infill and smart growth development projects are often funded with this local money.
O'Gorman listed numerous polls that show the public is distrustful of Sacramento even while local tax measures continue to pass with high margins. "As distrust in state government continues to erode, confidence in local government continues to remain high," said O'Gorman. She also said the public doesn't realize that many of the measures they pass have loopholes that state lawmakers continue to abuse.