Senator Ben Allen Speech on Need to Save Transit Funding in the State Budget

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Last week, a coalition of lawmakers held a press conference in Sacramento to call on Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders to restore funding in next year’s budget to support transit operations. As ridership continues to rebound, Governor Newsom has sadly decided to balance the state’s budget by reducing the state operating budget in next year’s budget in ways that would cause service cuts to major transit operators such as Metro, that operates the E Line light rail, and even the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus.

Senator Allen has posted video of his speech to Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Next provides this very lightly edited transcript:

Vision is an absolute necessity.

It’s such an important part of meeting our climate goals. It’s also a critical tool for social justice, for economic mobility. To allow people to get to work. To not have to afford to pay for a car, to do so in an environmentally sustainable way. It’s wonderful for young people. It’s wonderful for older folks.

It’s wonderful for working people. And in most civilized places, it’s wonderful for the entire society. One of the great things about living in a place like New York City, or Boston or London, is you get to see people from all walks of life sitting together on public transportation going about their daily business.

In Los Angeles, we’ve been trying for years to build out and create a transportation Renaissance. There’s been massive investments in LA. And we’re so proud of that build out. It’s such an important part of reaching our broader regional needs. But it’s also going to be such an important part of making sure that the World Cup is going to be a success, and the Olympics 2028 that’s coming to our city, they’re going to be a success.

And we also know that our congestion continues to get worse and worse. And yet, as a result of the challenges of the pandemic, we know that the model has gotten seriously implicated. We now have a raft of safety challenges that have made it worse and it becomes a potentially dangerous downward spiral.

And my deep fear here is that if we don’t act on Senator Wieners proposal, that we’re going to make it so that all of this investment, all the promise of public transit, will not be will not be met. And that will be such a tragedy for us, socially, societally, spiritually, environmentally, infrastructurally, logistically. And that’s why we’re we’ve come together to to really try to try to elevate this issue and make sure that folks in the governor’s office are hearing how important it is that we act. This is vitally important for our climate goals. It’s vitally important for the social and economic goals of our state.

And our agencies need this help. They need this help.

The governor needs to work with us and act with us to make sure that public transportation will stay solvent and strong and be able to grow and rebound from the challenges of the pandemic. So, thank you so much to Senator Weiner and my colleagues.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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