Patty Murray, by Ben Schiendelman
  • Gregoire says that the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) is not needed to build the viaduct replacement tunnel. This will likely make a lot of people happy, since the MVET tends to be extremely unpopular for some reason, but it makes me very unhappy, since that money was supposed to go to transit service.
  • Patty Murray and Diane Feinstein are pushing a measure through the US Senate that will increase the amount of infrastructure funding in the Senate version of the stimulus bill. Currently, the Senate version has significant less infrastructure, and especially transit spending, than the version the house passed last week. If the amendment passes, it’s virtually gauranteed that the stimulus bill will have more than $13 billion in transit spending. The Senate version is expected to be larger than the $819 billion House version was, due to the large number of amendments.
  • As you have probably heard, Ron Sims is going to DC to be the deputy director of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sims has been King County Exec since 1996, and was probably read for a new job. In the mean time, the County Council will select a replacement. Sims is a good fit for this position, and will do a great job.
  • The feeling outside North King County? Toll both the 520 bridge and the I-90 bridge to pay for 520 construction.
  • This is why double decker buses need to stick to their route.

11 Replies to “News Round Up”

  1. What will fund the new tunnel, if not the MVET?

    I drive across the bridge every day, but I think tolling the bridges sounds like a great idea. People will appreciate any savings from mass transportation if the costs of funding roads are more immediately apparent. It also allows people uninterested in the bridge more means to avoid funding it. More tolls. Less taxes. Hurray!

    1. The gas tax will fund the tunnel. The MVET was only going to go to transit anyway.

      I agree with you on tolls! We don’t need an MVET to pay for roads if we have a user fee.

      1. No doubt I preach to the choir here, but I think education about transportation economics (especially from an Austrian perspective) will greatly benefit Washington State.

        Most people react in horror to the idea of tolls, saying “why should I pay for roads?” Roads are anything but free — they have to be build and maintained like everything else — yet government trains people to think otherwise and ignore all the taxes.

        My point is that I think mass-transit proponents can find a lot of common ground with reduced-spending proponents concerning transportation. The cost of building roads is horribly subsidized. This “sunk-cost” of paying for the fancy highways greatly stimulates our car culture, long commutes and sprawl. There is nothing “free-market” about subsidized road construction and maintenance.

  2. Who do you guys want for interim Executive? I’m thinking someone with experience, e.g. Gary Locke or maybe even Paul Schell or Norm Rice.

  3. I knew the transit funding was going to fall through. That’s the way it’s always been. They put together a “package” of transit and roads, and just build the roads.

  4. @Alex. Ron Sims said that he advised the council to appoint a “caretaker” executive to serve out the term until the next election. Phillips and Constantine are both augering for the job. Those things together would seem to rule out serious former public leaders like Locke and Rice. I have no idea what Shell’s been doing since he left office. I like Rice and would like to see him back in the public sphere as a leader, but maybe not this job, right now.



    1. I think the idea of Locke or Rice is both would want to go back to what they are currently doing rather than return to politics. I’m sure their current employers would grant them a leave of absence.

      Either one would likely have the clout needed to steer the county through its current budget mess.

  5. Something about that Patty Murray photo is EXTREMELY charming.
    I like that you guys have been putting photos on all the posts.It makes the site more accessible.

    1. She’s pretty cool in person. She’s also like four-foot-eleven, which makes her very charming.

      1. I met her on election day when she briefly visited the election headquarters for my legislative district (the 1st, where she was once state senator). She manages to project “mom in tennis shoes” and “powerful Senator” at the same time. The most lasting impression, though, was her small physical stature.

    2. Patty Murray is one of the best senators our state has had and I hope she is in with us for the long haul. She is great on public transit and is usually behind Seattle all the way which is good for us transit-wise and for her politically as this is her natural home. She is a big supporter of Sound Transit in Congress and a strong backer of regional projects.

      I have no idea how they feel about her in Spokane, but over here she is very popular.

      As for Ron Sims going, he has probably been itching to go for a while and I am glad that in his zeal he didn’t bring Light Rail expansion down with him. His love for buses over Light Rail never made a lot of sense to me either environmentally or for its job impact on the State economy. All of our ST construction projects will have way more impact. I wish Ron well though over in DC if that is where he wants to go next.


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