[Update from Martin 4:10pm: Section 319 specifically prohibits Sound Transit, if it enacts new MVET, from receiving any state grants except for “transit coordination grants.”]
Today, the state Senate made public the details of the “compromise” transportation proposal agreed to by transportation committee leaders in the state House and Senate. The public documents include proposed bill text, project lists, and a balance sheet. We understand that both houses will vote on this proposed compromise tomorrow.
STB staff are still reviewing the documents and determining exactly what they mean for Seattle-area transit, but there are a few important highlights from the proposed revenue bill, ESSB 5987:
- Sound Transit gets authority to ask voters for a basket of new taxes that would raise approximately $15 billion for ST3 projects (Sections 318-321).
- However, up to $518 million of the new ST3 taxes would be diverted to the general fund (Section 422). This exactly matches a sales tax break that would be given to WSDOT under SSB 5990, so it is effectively a transfer from ST to WSDOT.
- ST must contribute $20 million over five years to affordable housing, and must give developers of affordable housing the first opportunity to bid on 80% of its surplus property, including property acquired for ST1 and ST2 (Section 329).
- The Snohomish County Public Transportation Benefit Area gets authority to ask voters for an additional .3% sales tax, which would support Community Transit (Section 312).
- Cities or counties may absorb, and take on the powers of, transportation benefit districts (TBDs) that have identical boundaries (Sections 301-308).
- TBDs get authority to impose $40 to $50, up from $20, of the maximum $100 vehicle license fee without a public vote (Sections 309-311).
On the one hand, this package gets ST3 all of its requested authority, and could also help fund Community Transit. On the other hand, this package contains numerous policy provisions which are hard to swallow, and (as always in Washington) proceeds full speed ahead with highway projects while requiring transit projects to submit to yet another public vote.