Scott Gutierrez, in a must-read, shares some statements that show why King County can’t have nice things. To prevent deep Metro cuts next year, the King County needs either 6 votes and no ballot measure or 5 votes and a vote of the people. No Republican are likely to vote for it, so to even go to the ballot all five Democrats have to stick together.
In that light, uh-oh:
I take the bus to work, the 41 from Northgate. I’m a Metro user on a regular basis. But on the fee, I have an open mind about it. I want to balance the needs of Metro with the tough economy for folks,” said County Councilmember Bob Ferguson, who represents areas north of Seattle [sic] and has announced he’ll run for Attorney General next year.
“I’m not saying yes, I’m not saying no. But I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk. I think that’s fair to say.”
Councilmember Julia Patterson, a Democrat who represents suburban areas around Kent, Seatac and Tukwila, says its chances are unclear. She said it could hinge on how the Regional Transit Committee votes on a new 10-year strategic plan that guides how Metro allocates future bus service.
“People are holding their cards close until they see what happens with the strategic planning process and the elimination of the 40/40/20 rule,” she said. “If the process is fair and everyone agrees with the strategic plan, I think elected officials will be much more inclined to support the (the fee).”
So the emergency transit funding bill might get wrapped up in the subarea politics of getting rid of 40/40/20. And that plan is sitting the Regional Transit Committee, which is composed of both County and municipal officials, and chaired by Reagan Dunn:
Right now, Dunn said he leans toward supporting the [service allocation] plan, but could be the swing vote if the suburbs are able to convince him it’s not a fair plan.
If I had to have one or the other, I think I’d rather have the policy reform than avoid the cuts, but I could understand why some would feel otherwise.
10 Replies to “P-I: Democrats Wobbly on Transit Funding”
In one sentence, Martin: The first time a King County councilmember who thinks like the one quoted loses his seat to you, the rest of the Democratic votes you need should be no problem.
And I should have said, “The first one quoted.” I’ve always kind of liked Julia Patterson.
During the campaign that put the King County Council in charge of Metro Transit, proponents listed direct election of transit leadership as a major selling point. That being the case, a minimum qualification for office is the understanding that a functioning transit system is exactly the kind of thing King County needs most to survive- and get out of- a bad economy.
Martin or Ben- whose district are you guys in, anyhow?
What happens to transit measures now that the state has cancelled the primaries? That suggests there’ll be no August election, so the only one this year will be November?
The state cancelled the meaningless presidential party primaries next spring, not the winnowing election in August.
I agree with you Martin. The revised service allocation policy is more important that the 20 dollar fee.
I haven’t read that any of the four Republicans on the county council would change their vote to Yes on the congestion fee if 40/40/20 is preserved.
Nor do I have any reason to believe Bob Ferguson or Julia Patterson is leveraging their potential vote to put the congestion fee on the ballot in exchange for saving 40/40/20.
So is the hangup here that the Regional Transit Committee has de facto veto power over putting the congestion fee on the ballot? or over 40/40/20?
The Regional Transit Committee has jurisdiction over transit policy, but not budget or anything else. So they do have the power to eliminate 40/40/20 and implement the new strategic plan which is based on measurable data and productivity.
Julia was one of the original people pushing for 40/40/20 because she thought south King County was getting underserved. And it turns out that in the analysis of service under the new plan, she was right. South King is a much stronger transit market than East King in terms of ridership and the transit dependent.
Bob is simply being overly cautious on an issue because he is running for attorney general statewide. I doubt he has been very engaged on the issue. He needs to define himself as pro-transit. Frankly, his statement that he wants to balance the needs of “Metro” is silly. It is the needs of the 110 million riders that are facing a 20% cut in service, not Metro.
I forgot to mention that Julia has been very supportive of the strategic plan because South county fares well. It is fairly dense, has many jobs, strong ridership, and a diverse economic and ethnic makeup. The politics on the strategic plan will be very interesting.
Bob Ferguson is running for AG so we are all in his district now. I replied to one of his fundraising requests telling him to support the Metro fee. It got a quick (noncommittal but supportive) reply. The more people he hears from the more likely he is to support the fee.
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