In an email to interested parties Representative Julie Hamos, the chair of the Committee, stated that "the subject matter of this hearing is the 'Need for Long-Term Operations and Capital Funding for State Mass Transit Systems'”.
Representative Hamos states that the Committee is looking for alternatives to an increase in the RTA sales tax:
We will welcome specific suggestions for revenues to replace the sales tax increase contained in SB 572 to fund RTA operations for the long-term. As you know, the Governor has taken a public position against the modest 1/4 of 1% sales tax increase in SB 572, which would be added in the 6-county RTA region to the existing regional sales tax that has been in place as the chief revenue base for transit operations for the last 24 years. Any suggestions for a sales tax alternative should meet the following requirements:
- Must generate $280 million in the first year, beginning immediately, with some growth each year
- Must be relatively stable, without great fluctuations from one year to the next
- Must maintain regional balance – without one area of the region bearing disproportionate responsibility for producing the revenues
- Should be generated from within the region – unless it is logical, practical and politically feasible to have downstate or statewide sources support RTA operations
- Should not be subject to the unpredictable state budgeting or appropriations process
Representative Hamos' invitation to search for funding alternatives is a bit snippy. Note in this regard the statements that the Governor's "public position" is against a "modest" increase in the RTA regional sales tax "that has been in place . . . for the last 24 years." The failure of SB 572 to gain political traction no doubt is very frustrating. Nonetheless, let's take seriously her request for bona fide alternatives to a sales tax increase that is unpopular in some quarters. (Bake sales don't count.) Post your ideas here, send them to Representative Hamos at email@example.com and show up at the hearing and testify.