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Or Democrat versus Republicans perspectives on Transit?

Got your attention didn’t I?

I want to embed a chart Geri Beardsley, Executive Director of the Washington State Transit Association is sending around to give you guys a scorecard of where we are in regards to transit funding in this state.  Below is the chart which you can click on for full size:

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My punditry after the jump to spare your e-mails…

Okay, here goes.

We have Governor Inslee’s Book Two proposal off to port/the left dependent on carbon tax funding that the state legislature has through a State Senate supermajority rule as reported by Crosscut and the comments of the House Transportation Committee chairwoman taken off the table.  Okay that leaves us the House’s 2013 and the Senate’s Feb. 2014 proposals.

The progressive House Democrats want to just give transit agencies direct support and call it good.  That’s fine and dandy, Island Transit is now very much being repaired and the other county-level transit agencies of this state can be trusted with the money.  Plus let’s be honest: The Seattle megalopolis’ transit agencies are hanging on and counting on local options to provide a decent amount of service.

The conservative Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (mostly Senate Republicans) believes it’s better to fund grants than direct support.  Seems to me this is more about making sure there’s transit services outside of the Seattle megalopolis – and you can see that in the current Washington State Department of Transportation grants awarded – than anything.  Of course, not too happy at the overall appropriation difference.  Certainly the Regional Mobility Grant program can use more funding.

However I agree with Representative Dave Hayes, “the state’s role in local transit agencies should be “very small and very narrow.” “Shifting the focus back over to the state and saying the state needs to come in and support this is not a fair statement,” Hayes said. “Until Island Transit starts charging fares and operating in a more responsible manner, it will be a huge challenge to get additional state dollars.”  I have a major problem with bureaucrats in Olympia under pressure from lobbying mostly kept from the public eye allocating transit dollars – that’s best in the hand of a local board that actually represents the community they serve.

I hope we at STB – and I consider commentators part of the STB community – will have the attitude we’ll be grateful for what we can get – as long as we get more money for transit grants, the Community Transit local option and ST3.  All three are nonnegotiable.  Must-have.  No excuses, no whining, get it done with a smile on your face!

3 Replies to “North by Northwest 42: Statewide Transportation Packages Compared…”

  1. Joe, Dave Hayes’ position only makes sense if the State Legislature gives counties the right to tax their citizens in whatever amount and using whatever means they choose, without “mill rate caps” and proscriptions from certain forms of taxation.

    And you can be double-damn-betcha certain that the welfare parts of the State (mostly “Red”) are not going to stand still for THAT! “What, give up our extortion lever keeping Seattle on the hook for what we want? You’ve GOT. TO. BE. KIDDING!”

    No. It’s better to punt on ST3 at this time than build useless monstrosities all over the state. And that will be the price that your sacred “Majority Coalition” demands from Puget Sound legislators JUST for the opportunity to have a vote. What a joke.

    1. Anandakos, here’s where you’re wrong: We need that taxing authority for ST3, period. Without it, Sound Transit flatlines. We need to build for growth in this region, not play the Seattle versus rest-of-the-state game.

      That said, I sure would like to see some balance here – bus lanes required on some of these megaprojects, absolutely.

      I also support a very simple tax cap: Local governments can tax however they choose… as long as voters approve. Let the voters decide, not insulated career politicians.

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