[8:30pm 22 Feb: See correction below]

As Dan Ryan reported a week ago, the leadership of the Senate Transportation Committee struck a deal for their transportation budget. The proposals were formalized in the form of Senate Bills 5987-5989, and had a public hearing this past Wednesday. SB 5987 is the transportation funding bill, and contains authorization for a vote on a Sound Transit 3 capital and service improvement package. (See video above.)

On Thursday, the committee voted on a series of amendments to SB 5987. (See video below, with the portion on SB 5987 starting at 44:45, and lasting about 50 minutes.) Four minor amendments passed. They then voted the bill out of committee, with a few Democrats including Pramila Jayapal (Seattle) and Cyrus Habib (Kirkland) casting symbolic No votes. (The signature sheet with the vote tally was not available online at the time of publication.) The bill, as amended, moves to the Senate Rules Committee, waiting to be scheduled for a Senate floor vote.

The bill for freestanding ST3 authority, SB 5128, has not been granted a hearing in the Transportation Committee, and may will die if not moved out of committee by Friday, February 27.

The House Transporation budget is currently on the backburner ($), but is not subject to the deadlines covering most bills.

The House bill for freestanding ST3 authority, HB 1180, was amended and passed out of the House Transportation Committee two weeks ago, but had to go through another public hearing in the House Finance Committee last week. (See video below.) SHB 1180 faces the same deadline of Friday to exit the Finance Committee, or die.

8 Replies to “Senate Transportation Budget Advances, Including ST3”

  1. Why did Senator Jayapal cast a “no” vote, symbolic or otherwise? I’m really starting to think that she doesn’t like Sound Transit but I would love to be convinced that I am mistaken.

    1. Sens. Jayapal and Habib pushed several amendments that tried to remove various provisions of the bill from being subject to the “poison pill”, which would redirect all the funding from each program subjected to that poison pill to the general transportation fund if the governor were to implement a carbon reduction policy.

      One of those programs subjected to the poison pill is special needs transportation (i.e. paratransit). Sen. Habib (who has been blind since age 8) was particularly rankled that special needs transportation would get defunded (at least the state’s meager contribution to it) if the vague prohibition on the governor enacting a carbon reduction policy were to kick in.

      Democrats also tried to remove provisions eliminating the standard prevailing wage requirement. Sen. Liias contended that the prevailing wage requirement adds 0.1% to the cost of transportation projects. Chairman King said that, no, it adds 20% to the cost of projects.

      Democrats also tried to push the total funding amount for ST3 higher. King shut that down, saying the committee leadership already had a deal, and he was sticking to it. He also invoked that deal in shutting down some amendments from Sen. Doug Ericksen (R – Whatcom County).

      Nobody was clever enough to point out that a future governor who doesn’t like the programs tagged with the poison pill just has to enact some small token carbon reduction policy, and a whole bunch of programs he doesn’t like would suddenly be defunded.

      1. Yeah, any governor that wants his name associated with cutting popular programs against the will of the legislature…

        Actually a governor that did this without sign-off from a legislative majority would piss off enough people that the legislature might restore full funding out of spite. Maybe the governor plus a significant legislative minority could use this as a power play to ultimately reduce funding of these programs, but it would be a weird coalition. You might imagine a hard-core Tea Party group doing it, but why would they spend their political capital on something that doesn’t even lower taxes? Scott Walker might do something like this, but we wouldn’t even elect Tim McKenna!

        If Inslee really wanted to stir the pot he could take the pill and challenge the legislature. Democrats might propose full restoration of funding but in this legislature what would pass is a Republican bill restoring funding for things like special needs transportation but zeroing things like ped/bike funding. The better move is probably to wait and campaign for more friends in the legislature next round of elections.

    2. It’s also worth noting that Jayapal and Habib are specifically opposed to arbitrary cap on ST3 authority and the overly-new-highway-oriented nature of the bill.

  2. “Poison pill” is kind of a misnomer- because to be effective, a real poison pill has to be either flavorless or, even better, taste good.

    With legislation like this, bad taste and smell reveal that real purpose is to make other legislators, and voters, hold their noses with both hands. Or put their hands over their mouths and run for the bathroom.

    Legislators on transit’s side are being paid to sit there and put up with repulsive things…similarities between making sausage and legislation.

    But it seems to me that transit’s strongest grass-roots means of legislative persuasion is to develop and publicize a program showing what our own region can do by ourselves whether anybody elsewhere likes it or not.

    Republican philosophy itself gives us the right to do whatever we want for ourselves because we are richer than the rest of the state. The fact that we also have more voters means less to them but also makes them madder than first point.

    Which is also a very effective thing to do to your enemies, as well as creating great YouTube as they screech and eat their tails like any enraged and helpless primate.

    Amount of money we can raise by ourselves won’t be enough for everything we want. But strategically and tactically, display of what we can do, and are ready to do, will speak louder than anything any legislator, theirs or ours, can say.

    Mark Dublin

Comments are closed.