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Governor Signs Bills Opening the Door to Restore Funding for Santa Barbara MTD

Once the federal government shutdown ends, agency officials say they expect to be able to maintain current service levels

Federal funding should be restored to the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, thanks to two bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

MTD officials announced Tuesday that the two bills, Assembly Bill 1222 and Senate Bill 13, should allow federal funding to be restored to transit agencies throughout California, including MTD, which would prevent the agency from moving forward with emergency service reductions that the community has been exploring.

The funding delay stemmed from the Pension Reform Act of 2013, which includes transit workers, a move opposed by union leaders. About $1.6 billion in federal grants have been withheld from California transit districts ever since.

Santa Barbara MTD was expecting to cut service by 30 percent in January because of the lack of funding, but MTD officials said Tuesday that when the federal government shutdown ends and the federal Department of Labor certifies MTD’s grant, "MTD will be able to continue to operate public transit service at the current level."

Agency officials have held multiple meetings in the community as they explored which services they might have to cut.

"MTD would like to thank all of our riders for their cooperation and understanding during these challenging past few months," MTD said in a statement. "We also thank those of you who wrote letters or called the Department of Labor and the governor’s office to express the importance of this funding for the residents of the area."

The Department of Labor made its first decision last month against the Pension Reform Act and told the Sacramento Regional Transit District that it would not certify transit grants, stating that provisions of the act were incompatible with federal labor law.

To keep federal transit grant money flowing, Brown announced then that he was proposing legislation, AB 1222 and SB 13, to temporarily exempt local agency transit workers from the Pension Reform Act.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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