Ah, opposition research. The Constantine campaign is spreading around a 2008 video of County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison effusively praising the Washington Policy Center’s report, the “Policy Guide for Washington State”:
Let me tell you about this book. I have read it cover to cover and it is one of the most extraordinary pieces of work about Washington State and the policies that make our government run. It hits on 10 different subjects from health care, education, transportation, tax policy and others. But let me tell you, folks… if you started this book tomorrow morning and read it through you would be smarter by dinnertime tomorrow night.
The Hutchison campaign’s comment last week on the report as a whole is at Publicola:
Lastly, I have never waivered from my positions that transportation policy should focus on congestion relief, integrating all of our transportation modes.
That’s not really disavowing the transportation recommendations in it. The Hutchison campaign did not take the opportunity to clarify their agreement or disagreement with the transportation components of the report.
The transportation chapter of this report is incredibly retrograde stuff straight out of 1955. It’s so funny/scary it’s probably not worth even bothering to rebut for this crowd. Anyway, the choicest recommendations from the report are excepted for your reading pleasure, below the fold:
1) Implement performance measures that tie spending to congestion relief. The legislature should require state and local transportation departments and special districts (like Sound Transit and the Regional Transportation Investment District) to reduce overall congestion by 50 percent in 25 years. Policymakers should also require annual audits from the State Auditor on the performance of state and local transportation officials to measure their progress, if any, in meeting the 50 percent reduction target.
2) Respect people’s choices and allow for a greater freedom of mobility by actively working to reduce traffic congestion. Officials should adopt a policy that places congestion relief ahead of other spending considerations. Restrictions on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and deliberately or passively increasing traffic congestion to force people out of their cars should be avoided.
3) Reduce spending on costly, ineffective fixed-route mass transit. Policymakers should change spending priorities that heavily favor mass transit systems despite chronically low ridership. Riders of these expensive systems, like light rail and the Sounder Commuter Train, are being heavily subsidized by automobile commuters, yet research shows that fixed rail does nothing to reduce traffic congestion.
4) Increase general purpose lane capacity while focusing on fixing chokepoints. Focusing transportation funding on key chokepoints by adding general purpose lane miles will help move the most people at the least cost and least impact on the environment.
5) Do not allow local transit agencies to use government subsidies to take business away from private citizens. Public transit agencies not only work to preserve their own monopolies, but often seek to take business away from private carriers. Washington should follow Michigan’s example by prohibiting local transit agencies from using tax subsidies to duplicate routes served by private carriers.
6) Hold a public vote on whether Sound Transit should collect taxes beyond the ten year limit of its original plan, based on the agency’s performance in fulfilling promises made to voters in 1996. Voters have not received what Sound Transit promised to them under the original ten-year plan. Instead, services have been cut back and costs have soared. The elected officials of Sound Transit’s board should allow voters to have a say about whether the agency should continue collecting full taxes beyond the ten years authorized by the 1996 vote.
7) Require Sound Transit to maintain its promise to voters by rolling back phase one taxes. Sound Transit must maintain its promise to voters by rolling back its first phase tax rate. Voters rejected the agency’s second phase capital program, which should have triggered the taxpayer protection clause the voters authorized in 1996.
8) Require that Phase One of Sound Transit Light Rail be completed and its effectiveness measured before more ambitious light rail projects are considered. Before more property is seized and torn up, and billions more of taxpayer dollars committed on extending the line, policymakers should perform an independent cost/benefit analysis on the 1996 plan’s effectiveness and on any future expansion plans.
9) Adopt Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as a more effective alternative to light rail. Buses operating in a dedicated travel lane provide frequent, flexible and high quality service at much less capital cost than building fixed light rail. BRT service creates less impact on the environment, less disruption to neighborhoods and functions at significantly lower operating cost than rail. Policymakers and transportation officials should adopt BRT services as a more cost-effective alternative to meeting Washington’s mass transit needs.
10) Policymakers and the public should consider whether diverting significant transportation taxes toward light rail transit and away from other programs and services is worth the cost. Based on the data, this analysis concludes that it is not. Spending significant amounts of transportation tax revenue on projects that have no effect in reducing congestion inevitably makes traffic worse.