With the legislative session coming to a close, we have some good news to report.
To start with, SB 5433 passed the House with both an authorization for King County to use ferry district taxing authority for transit (discussed in more detail here) and the Simpson amendment to allow transit agencies to ask for transportation benefit districts (discussed here). TCC just broke that the Senate was tied tonight, with Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen making the tie-breaking vote to pass the bill. This is great news for all transit agencies, but especially for Metro.
The transportation budget passed. The I-90 asset assessment remained essentially as Rep. Simpson wrote, funded and inclusive of ST in the process – and moved up a month to be complete by November 1st. Rep. Clibborn’s $10.6 million for R8A preliminary design work survived – and I understand Senator Jarrett supported this as well, although he wasn’t on the conference committee. Regional Mobility Grants survived partially, with $33 million of the Senate’s original $45 million, but I’ll take it – $8 million is included for the $39 million we still need to get Sounder to Lakewood. There was also funding for a third Amtrak Cascades run to Vancouver starting next year, and the final version of the bill kept in the House’s “Seattle pays for overruns” Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement provision.
Given how bad things looked a month ago, this isn’t bad! In addition to the obvious thanks for Rep. Simpson taking the lead here, I also want to recognize that Rep. Clibborn and Senator Jarrett both played roles in making sure all this funding stayed in place, so thank you to them as well. Perhaps we’ll never know what goes on in those conference committees (ahem, transparency initiative?), but we seem to have fared well enough.
Of course, now that we’ve gotten an inch, next budget session I expect Oregon-like funding for light rail and hourly bullet train service from Canada to Portland. Also a pony.