Mark Lacter, in a recent conversation on KPCC’s Business Update, was surprisingly cynical about the importance of publicly funded transit projects to our region’s economic recovery.
Commenting on the recently passed federal transportation bill that will expedite construction of 12 L.A. County mass transit projects, Lacter challenged Mayor Villaraigosa and other elected officials who tout the “game-changing” job creation benefits of public works investment. He argued that it is hard to determine the number of jobs generated by these types of projects.
It’s true that there is no way to predict the precise number of direct and indirect jobs created through infrastructure investment. But we cannot underestimate the ability of these projects to increase employment in the construction industry, one of the hardest-hit sectors during the Great Recession.
The 12 transit projects that will now be fast-tracked are part of a larger package of transportation improvements that will create at least $2.8 billion in economic activity and $65 million in additional tax revenue for L.A.
Until recently the Internet, along with the devices that brought it to us and the platforms that have expanded its usefulness, held a certain cool, selfless allure. The Web was mostly the idea of young, rule-breaking rebels, and their insurgent mystique made them hero geeks. Browsing a favorite blog on our laptops, a cup of red-eye coffee nearby, we felt a part of the New. Then money began doing what it always does to young, rule-breaking rebels – it turned them into our parents, our landlords and our loan officers.
It began in earnest, I suppose, with last year’s tiff between Amazon.com and the state of California over Sacramento’s insistence that the online retail behemoth start collecting state taxes on its sales. Amazon eventually struck “compromises” with California and other states that mostly favored Amazon. Many of us in California smiled – we got an extra year of purchasing on the site without paying taxes.