Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) announced Friday that Governor Jerry Brown had signed their emergency legislation (AB 1222) to prevent the federal decertification of local transit authorities across the state that would jeopardize billions of dollars in federal transit grants resulting in massive project termination and thousands of job losses.
“I am relieved that the Governor saw eye-to-eye with us on the urgency of this bill. Inaction would have wreaked havoc on the economy. Absent this bill billions of dollars in crucial project funding and thousands of jobs would have been lost,” said Bloom. “Also, without immediate resolution, the public would have lost all confidence in our ability to carry out their mandate. “
Dickinson said he was grateful that Governor Brown signed AB 1222 into law.
“It will ensure that capital and operating grants will continue to fund critical projects by creating a pathway to resolve current disputes between state and federal law,” Dickinson said. “Importantly, this bill will help keep workers on the job and the light rail extension to Consumes River College on track.”
In August, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) informed California that absent an immediate fix, federal grants to local transit agencies would be withheld because the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) passed last year violates Section 13(c) of the Federal Transit Act defining transit worker collective bargaining rights. Absent an immediate legislative solution, California would lose $1.6 billion in federal funds in 2013 and likely another $1.6 billion in 2014.
For the Los Angeles region, nearly $3.5 billion dollars are at stake when federal funding is combined with other project funds. If unresolved, the Downtown Regional Connector and Purple Subway Line Extension projects as well as other related local transit improvements, maintenance, and operations would be placed on indefinite hold. Additionally, more than 46,000 local jobs are at risk.
The legislation would provide a one year exemption for transit employees from PEPRA and preserves the state’s ability to fight for the pension reform law in court. If the courts determine that PEPRA is in compliance with the Federal Transit Act, then the one year exemption will sunset. However, if the courts determine that PEPRA is not in compliance, the exemption will be permanent. The legislation also creates a $26 million state loan program to assist transit operators that are at risk of losing federal transit grants.
In addition to signing the legislation, Governor Brown also announced today that the state has sued the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for previously denying federal grants to California public transit agencies due to DOL’s conclusion that California’s 2012 pension reforms violated transit worker collective bargaining rights.
“These projects are crucial to our regional efforts to reduce traffic congestion and any delay whatsoever would have had significant immediate and long-term consequences for the many people who rely on transit,” said Bloom.
Richard Bloom chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Transportation. He represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacifica Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.