LA Mayor Villaraigosa Discusses America Fast Forward At Jobs Summit

Dave Johnson

Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, talked today at the Summit On Jobs & America’s Future in Washington D.C. Villaraigosa described the bipartisan America Fast Forward initiative from the National Conference of Mayors. The America Fast Forward initiative is based on Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative for public transportation construction projects in Los Angeles. According to the LA Daily News,

America Fast Forward includes increasing annual funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act; increasing the maximum percentage of the funding allotment that the act can finance; permitting the U.S. Department of Transportation to approve multiple related projects at the same time; allowing the department to grant up-front credits to projects and authorizing the department to lock in interest rates for approved projects.

Villaraigosa said the plan would generate $158 billion in total economic output focused in the construction and technical industries while generating $10.6 billion in new federal tax revenue and another $5.8 billion in state tax revenue.

America Fast Forward is supported by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and more than 60 mayors.

Villaraigosa said, (from notes),

“Let me share a story, my grandpa got here 100 years ago. People ask me when I got here, where are you from. I’m from here, my parents are from here…

He had 2nd grade education, picked fruit, lost all his money i8n depression, his wife left him with 2 daughters. This is the greatest generation that we hear people talk about. They went through the depression, war against fascism, made sacrifices, gave us our standard of living, our consumer society, the strong middle class that makes the economy do better and makes people thrive, brought us best institutions of higher learning and the best highways that are the envy of world, our public education system. How did we thank them? California’s Prop. 13 capped our property taxes but not our kids, we got into two wars. What we have always done is when we are in a war, we sacrifice, tighten our belt to pay for that war, but today we have fast-forwarded the payments to future generations, passed tax breaks for wealthy. We didn’t pay for them. The list goes on.

In that context, our cities, counties, states have to make tough decisions. I had to lay off in LA, cut 4,000 jobs out of 14,000 civilian general-fund jobs in last 2 years. But we’re living in a world where to some public jobs just don’t matter. What we’re talking about is teachers in our classrooms, cops, firefighters, librarians.

What do we do to get out of the box of just cutting, how do we exspand the pile, what to create jobs?

Accelerate investment in infrastructure. I advocated for a half-penny sales tax to invest $30 billion in infrastructure in LA, public transportation, highway repair, had the natural opposition from Republicans, even some demcorats. We got it passed with the required 2/3, to put people to work. I went for federal funds to help, federal government said no so we got localities across the country to put up $$.

Everyone in public says job-creation is number one priority. But most cranes are in China, most infrastructure investment is in China.

How do we do it in this context? Country is divided, so we are proposing a national bipartisan apprioach from Democratic and Republican mayors around country, to create a million infrastructure jobs nationwide. This is a national proposal building on LA’s 30/10 plan, called America Fast Forward. It is a bond program to accelerate commitments, lock in now, includes an infrastructure bank.

It will create a million jobs, with $51 billion workers income, $150 billion total economic output, $10 billion in federal tax revenue, $5 billion in local tax revenue.

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