By Jon Ortiz
Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 – 7:52 am

Less than a year after California lawmakers mandated sweeping changes for state and local government pensions, federal officials are poised to cut off billions of dollars in transportation funding because of the new laws.

A series of decisions by the U.S. Department of Labor could begin Friday that would ultimately freeze more than 100 grants for projects statewide, including more than $60 million in already approved money for Sacramento area transit efforts.

“If this isn’t resolved, eventually we’re going to run out of money,” said Mike Wiley, the Sacramento Regional Transit District’s general manager and CEO.

In total, some $1.6 billion could dry up this year alone for everything from commuter rail expansion to bus maintenance.

In a copy of a recent letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and obtained by The Sacramento Bee, U.S. Labor Department Secretary Thomas E. Perez warned that California’s new pension law likely runs afoul of a federal mass transit grant rule that requires transportation agencies to preserve their employees’ collective representation rights.

The Labor Department must certify that a mass transit provider is following the rules as the final step in the federal grant process. If the department decertifies an agency, the federal money isn’t released until the agency is recertified.

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