Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined other big city mayors and some governors at the White House on Monday to talk transportation with President Obama. The Mayor took the opportunity to push his funding proposal for transit programs.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been trying to convince Washington to pre-fund $13 billion for LA County light rail and subway lines in ten years instead of 30 years. To do that, he needs federal loans, loan guarantees, or bonds. In his White House meeting, Villaraigosa said he jumped on a phrase used by the President, to "leverage federal dollars."
"One of the things that I said to the president was that in a world of historic deficits and debt, with limited amount of money, the best way to get that leverage is to expand the current programs that we have," Villaraigosa said.
Villaraigosa made his pitch for the LA County transit programs that will be eventually be paid for out of the voter-approved half-cent sales tax. He added that building now during the economic downturn would both create jobs and cost less.
The mayor said a year ago when he first pitched his 30/10 proposal to Washington decision makers, they laughed at him. Now, he said, he has backing from the Transportation Secretary and the head of the House Transportation Committee.
Congress is expected to tackle a massive transportation bill in the new year.
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