King County Metro 2605 on Route 150
Photo by Oran

This morning, the final version of the emergency transit bill passed out of the Senate and is now on its way to the Governor. The bill would allow the King County Council to implement a $20 car licence fee to fund transit, which would raise $67 million for Metro. The house version of the bill included Reuven Carlyle’s (D-Seattle) amendment that changed the requirement to a simple majority rather than the two-thirds majority put in by the Senate. Two days ago, the conference committee appointed to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the emergency transit bill produced a final copy. The final version includes the two-thirds majority, which means six instead of five county council members have to approve the fee. The House passed the reconciled bill yesterday.

The two-thirds majority agreement is not good news for transit, but the bill making it all the way through is, especially with the number of potential road blocks it encountered. In the end, one Republican Senator voted for the bill! Dan Swecker, from Centralia, sometimes breaks with his caucus when he disagrees. He’s on Senate Transportation, so he’s definitely knowledgeable about the bill. I have an email to his office to ask why he liked it.

38 Replies to “Transit Funding Bill Passes with Two-Thirds Compromise”

  1. This whole idea of routine government by two thirds majority violates the whole principle of government by the will of the majority. And as Jerry Seinfeld would say, “What’s so special about 2/3? Why not 37/64 or 207/359?”

    How about a Constitutional initiative mandating a 2/3 supermajority for passing any citizen initiative, and another repealing all those that passed with less? It would be worth it just to hear the other side argue that in a democracy, the majority rules!

    Mark Dublin

    1. [quote]How about a Constitutional initiative mandating a 2/3 supermajority for passing any citizen initiative, and another repealing all those that passed with less? It would be worth it just to hear the other side argue that in a democracy, the majority rules!

      Mark Dublin[/quote]

      That actually sounds like a good idea for an initiative -one that could stand a good chance of passing.

    2. Ah, yes, the supermajority–the reason Forward Thrust didn’t “pass” and we waited an additional 25 years to get 1/4 the rail service (not that I’m not a fan of Link, but the previous system would have been vastly superior grade-separated rail).

      “Democracy.” We has it.

      1. I can’t really blame the bond rule for that. We could have authorized the tax and created a new agency instead – and we’d have it now.

    3. And what happens if that initiative passes, but by less than 2/3? You might end up in an infinite loop :)

  2. I am really glad it passed. Too bad my Senator Rodney Tom (D-48) voted against it…One of three Democratic Senators who voted against it and the only one who lives in King County. Grr….

    1. A point on challenging incumbents: Just one year ago, lots of commenters on this blog declared Sen. Ken Jacobsen to be essentially untouchable. Where is he now?

  3. What exactly was the compromise? shouldn’t it be (0.500 + 0.667)/2 if it were a compromise?

    They are deigning to let us tax ourselves, but insist on a super-majority for us to do it?

    More like a rout than a compromise.

    1. The compromise was to insert a bunch of language in the preamble basically restating Carlyle’s points about majority rule.

      1. Carlyle knew the bill was DOA in the Senate without that provision. He made his point — which was not really related to transit in the first place — and moved on. If you want to do something more useful than kvetching on here, send an email to Jane Hague (jane.hague@kingcounty.gov) as I just did, explaining why it’s important for you and everyone else in this region that she vote to save Metro when it comes up for a vote. She’s the swing voter; it’s all in her court.

      2. Dang it. I like to just kvetch.

        Fine. Email sent. You are a hard-case, Bruce. I hate being useful, but for you I will.

      3. Aww thanks. I’m generally hate being useful too, but periodically I get off my duff just to surprise everyone :-)

      4. I think I should have kissed-up more in my email. Right after I sent it, she came out saying she would vote against.

        Now instead of taking a preamble, I guess I’ll just have to amble to work.

  4. ….allow the King County Council to implement a $20 car licence fee to fund transit,…..is that even true???

    why an additioanl 20 dollar per car fee to fund transit??? do most that ride transit in king county also have cars??? why not just raise fares 20 dollars per transit rider per month??

    or raise a tax/fee on a non car item???? are most roads funded via those who use cars anyway???

    1. No. They are not. Not even close. Anyone who doesn’t drive is providing a massive subsidy to drivers, in the form of property taxes and a myriad of other taxes that are used to fund road construction and maintenance.

      If you want to pay your fair share, you can start by sending me a check for, I estimate, around $7000 a year.

      Email me and I’ll give you my address.

      1. do non drivers live completly separate from road use??? the food they eat and the goods they buy??

        a lot of it gets there via a flat surface that thinks roll on.

        why are they paying a massive subsidy to those who drive automobiles???

        arent the neighborhoods with lots of cars paying more in property taxes and other tansportaiton taxes?? property taxes on land and vehicle, gas taxes to propel the vehicle and make the things that the vehicle rolls on???

      2. Scott, the point is at everyone pays into services that other people use. For what it’s worth, people who never use public transportation benefit from the congestion relief it affords. People like me, who do not own cars, benefit from the economic opportunities afforded by a public road network. This is why we pay taxes for these things, rather than just user fees; the users are simply impossible to measure.

        Also, your use of multiple question marks conveys a tone of accusation, as if you are attempting to ensnare your fellow commenters with a well-placed rhetorical question.

    2. “why not just raise fares 20 dollars per transit rider per month??”

      The fare increases of the past two years are already costing the average commuter an additional $390 per year, an extra 20 bucks isn’t too much to ask drivers to kick in to help keep afloat a system that benefits everyone.

      1. coulndt the extra 20 bucks not be much of an issue to the transit fare payer???

        why woulndt an additional 20 bucks per fare payer per month keep it afloat???

        do the taxpayers chip in to the car owner to help them keep their car paid for? is that really benefitting everyone???

      2. Scott, the point is at everyone pays into services that other people use……

        uh you might say thats the point. i cant stop you. i read that it benefits everybody. that seems like a point to me.

        and i dont know that thats the case.

  5. zed……uh, thats not the point. if you can see or understand that i am wondering what is true or asking questions by lookng at the question marks then great. if you want to answer to my quetions , thats swell.

    if all you can do is count question marks and comment on that….then maybe you should try real hard to s t f u….and comment elsewhere.

    1. I answered one of your questions, but you’re piss-poor grammar makes it hard to understand the true intent of your questions. That’s not my fault.

      1. Zed, I think you wanted to say “your piss-poor grammar”. That said, you’re grammer is better then scott ts.

  6. I get really tired of the argument that “A subsidizes B”, etc. Let’s all just accept the fact that we pay taxes, mkay? We live in a society. I know for a fact that many of my tax dollars go to programmes that don’t directly benefit me (Medicaid, WSF, lower education, planned parenthood, etc etc etc etc etc ad nauseam). We all do. What we need to realise is just because we don’t see a tangible direct benefit of these services, we all enjoy the collective society that these services make possible.

    So, you have to pay $20 more a year on car tabs. Well I have to pay sales tax for a stadium I’ve never visited and never plan to. I also have to pay property taxes (through my rent) to pay for schools I have never and will never attend.

    We. All. Pay. Taxes. And when it all boils down to it, we end up paying about the same amount as everyone else in our income-bracket.

  7. Nobody will *have* to pay $20 extra on car tabs. Nobody is having a gun held to their heads and told “Drive!”

  8. There was a really good thread about why it only took a tweak of RCW to allow fuel tax to be spent on transit infrastructure. Can anyone find it now?

    I’d love to see someone post their analysis of why it still has to be a constitutional amendment. Having read that thread, I believe it doesn’t.

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