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Authors:  Maxwell Albrecht, Anne Brown, Jaimee Lederman, Brian D. Taylor, Martin Wachs

Date: June 5, 2017

Project: The Equity Challenges and Outcomes of California County Transportation Sales Taxes

This report examines equity among local option sales tax (LOST) measures for transportation in California between 1976 and 2016. Since the first was enacted in 1976 in Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley), 76 LOST measures have appeared on county ballots, 48 of which (63%) were approved by voters. These measures have proven to be popular methods to finance transportation system construction, operations, and maintenance over the past four decades, increasing in number even after a 1995 ruling in Santa Clara County Local Transportation Authority v. Guardino required that LOSTs secure two-thirds support to pass.

LOSTs are currently in place in 24 of California’s 58 counties that are home to 88 percent of the state’s population. Sales tax revenues dedicated to transportation today produce over $4 billion per year for transportation construction and maintenance in these “self-help counties.” Sixteen counties have enacted more than one sales tax measure: Alameda, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara counties have three, four, and five passed measures, respectively.

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