GOP-controlled House might hinder Villaraigosa's transit funding request
After Tuesday's election, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa could have a tougher time securing federal aid for his plan to accelerate a dozen local transit projects, including the much-heralded Westside subway extension. That's because the Republican majority sweeping into the House has pledged to rein in government spending.
Although Villaraigosa has enjoyed the support of many fellow Democrats in Washington for his so-called 30/10 plan -- which would allow Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build 12 transit projects in 10 years rather than the projected 30 -- a number of California's congressional Republicans have been wary, at best, of sending Los Angeles more federal funding when the federal budget is covered in red ink.
"With this year's deficit at $1.3 trillion, and next year's projected to be a trillion dollars or more, it's going to be extremely difficult to convince Congress to increase spending for anything," said Jim Specht, deputy chief of staff to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), who could return as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine) said he is open to hearing Los Angeles officials make their case, but added: "We have got to reduce a lot of spending. ... The people just voted, we believe, get this deficit and this debt under control.''
Villaraigosa has acknowledged that "we've got our work cut out for us" if congressional sentiments shift.
The mayor hopes he can convince lawmakers that his plan would not only benefit taxpayers but also serve as a template for creating transit options and generating jobs in other places, perhaps even in their own districts.
-- Richard Simon and Dan Weikel
Photo: The Gold Line. Credit: Los Angeles Times