A '''local option sales tax''' is a tax designated for a special purpose, levied at the citywide or countywide level. In the last several decades California has made ample use of LOSTs to fund the expansion of public transit. LOSTs usually take the form of an extra percentage appended to the standard sales tax,
and as with all new revenue increases in California, must be approved by anywhere from a majority to 2/3 of voters. In 2015, local funding was the single biggest source of transit revenue in California (40.1% of all revenue). In Fiscal Year 2014-5, revenue from LOSTs eclipsed revenue from passenger fares for the first time since FY 2006-7.
== History ==
* Specific lists of transportation projects. LOST revenues may only be used to fund specific programs, which limits politicians' ability to divert money to other projects. Voters know exactly what they are getting up front.
* Local control over revenues.
== Criticism ==
Wachs writes that LOSTs are "gradually but inexorably changing the way we finance transportation systems" by abandoning the principle of "user pays." Economists generally agree that "user fees have at least some tendency to induce more efficient use of the transportation system," unlike sales taxes which apply to all citizens equally. (Think of fuel taxes incentivizing drivers to buy hybrid or zero-emissions vehicles, or congestion pricing helping to smooth traffic flows in busy city centers.)
writers, "While transportation planners and engineers often apply analytical procedures like cost-benefit analysis to determine which investments should be selected, ballot measures...substitute election campaigns—sometimes called "beauty contests"—for analysis." This can distort priorities towards prestige "ribbon-cutting opportunities" and away from the nuts-and-bolts qualities of good service.
== List of Major California LOSTs Since 2000 ==
''All LOST information from http://www.cfte.org/elections/past''