Rep. Reuven CarlyleOn Thursday, State Representative Reuven Carlyle (D-36) wrote a strongly-worded editorial on Publicola opposing Sound Transit 3 (ST3). By using much of the remaining property tax capacity, Carlyle says, ST3 “will suck the oxygen out of the room” and jeopardize the state’s ability to respond to the McCleary decision:

I am unsettled that the package consumes the oxygen in the room on taxes for virtually all other public services at all levels of government for years to come. The plan moves to among the very highest sales tax in the nation along with a major property tax increase. We need to be honest that the ability of cities, counties and the state to utilize the sales tax in the future as a new revenue source is effectively ended with this plan…

The Sound Transit financing plan arguably works well for Sound Transit. It’s reasonable and understandable that they feel strongly they are operating within their authorizing environment of our current tax system. But it’s a bold 21st Century spending plan with a lethargic 1990s financing plan. Why didn’t they choose to be as courageous and innovative on the revenue side as they at least attempted to be on the spending side?

As a state legislator I cannot in good conscience support an inequitable and unstable financing plan in one isolated silo of public services—no matter how valued and important to our future—that I believe will have substantial negative implications for public education in the years to come.

As well-intentioned as this is for Carlyle – he’s a long-time advocate for more progressive tax sources – it stings a bit more coming from a Democratic ally opposing a project with immense benefits to his own district. The 36th stands to get 6 new rail stations, a direct airport connection, and a traffic-free subway through Queen Anne, South Lake Union, and Downtown. Already set to take 19 years to complete, Carlyle would have us wait even longer on account of $.25 per $1,000 of property tax authority.

Let’s appreciate the deep irony of his criticisms. Carlyle is part of the only legislative body with broad authority to create new tax sources, and yet he is criticizing Sound Transit for not being “courageous and innovative” enough to reject the only choices made available to them. It’s a strange day when the cooks in the kitchen are upset that the diner orders off the menu they themselves wrote.

The property tax cap he cites as sacrosanct is not a constitutional amendment, but a simple legislative act like everything else, changeable with a simple majority vote in both houses. Passing ST3 surely complicates the McCleary funding puzzle, but the bottom line is that the legislature always has options, and Sound Transit doesn’t. 

Carlyle was absolutely right to raise these issues during the funding debate over the transportation package that authorized an ST3 vote. But having lost the battle to implement an employer tax instead, opposing ST3 now doesn’t make a McCleary resolution any closer (and the highways get built regardless). Instead, failure on ST3 would likely stifle progress on both education and transportation, setting up a dangerous series of false choices in which every civic need is pitted against every other.

Our property taxes are not high, and are in fact below the median nationally. And sure, sales tax is regressive and 10% a psychological barrier, but places like Vancouver BC do just fine with 12%. Progressives and transit advocates will be there every step of the way to help representatives like Carlyle find more progressive tax sources, so it’s disappointing to see him give in to such zero-sum thinking.

68 Replies to “Reuven Carlyle’s Misguided ST3 Opposition”

  1. This makes me question Carlyle’s commitment to more progressive taxation. ST3 will certainly put more pressure on the legislature to do the hard work of building business and grassroots support for an income tax. Is he afraid we will actually expect him to be more than just talk?

  2. Well said Zach. It’s extremely disappointing to see a politician pull somthing like this. He isn’t adding value to the conversation. He isn’t representing his district.

    John Niles and Tim Eyman are tripping over themselves to congratulate this D36 “representative.” An extremely sad state of affairs.

  3. I fear this may be an opening salvo form pseudo-liberal neighborhood “preservationists” on this topic.

  4. I think Zack is missing the point here. While ST3 may be good for the region, the ‘bullet proofed’ financing plan is not, in the opinion of Rep. Carlyle. His point is this – tying up so much revenue to repay bonds for the next 50+ years is irresponsible and irreversible to protect those revenues for bond holders. We can’t imagine what our economy will look like 50 years from now, and maxing out the property tax and pledging regressive sales taxes that far out is not a good idea.
    Whatever happened to pay as you go?
    Why is the business and head tax a sacred cow around here?
    ST3’s main purpose is to bring daily commuters into Seattle in the morning and take them home in the evening. Employers benefit greatly from this system. If you can’t at least acknowledge what the spine will do, then further conversation about how to pay for it are pointless.

    1. I agree with mic about the need for some sort of employment (“head”) tax for Sound Transit. If it is implemented throughout the ST taxing district it would not have the deleterious effect of promoting sprawl. Doing so in Seattle only would do so of course.

      The Tri-Met employment tax is about one-half of one percent of compensation and provides Tri-Met with most of its operating funds. As Federal grants dry up it is increasingly also funding capital projects. Because it is an employment based tax, it is certainly true that during the Great Recession Tri-Met revenues plunged about 12% and service was widely curtailed. “Frequent Transit” was redefined to eighteen or even twenty minute headways.

      So it’s not ideal by itself as a funding source for transit, but it is a good portion of a multi-legged stool.

      When allied with the three existing Sound Transit taxes, an employment tax would allow the ST Board to reduce the impact on the property tax.

      However, it is very late in the game to bring this up. Niles and Eyman are already celebrating Representative Carlyle’s op ed. I expect that this may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back by weakening support in North King which must pass the bond issuance by nearly 70% if it is to pass throughout the District.

      If it does lead to defeat, I can only hope that Seattle responds by “curtain tolling” all of its arterial streets at the city limits and all of the off-ramps of the freeways at the change of ownership from WSDOT. It could then use the money to fund the WSTT and real bus priority in the C and D line corridors to replace Link to Ballard and West Seattle.

      1. The game is still being played. ST proposes a plan and the voters will accept or reject it based on its merits.
        In 50 years:
        There’s up to a 17% chance we’ll have a 9.0 Earthquake.
        Global warming will raise sea levels by up to 5 feet, rendering many parts of Seattle underwater and others at the mercy of tides and storm surges.
        A global economic crash or two.
        I for one don’t care to get locked into a situation that our leaders can’t get us out of.
        ST3 can still be purchasing 30 year bonds in 2041.

      2. So I’m confused. Would you rather us not invest at all, because of various natural risks? Or are you saying we should invest less conservatively to get things done in a less extended bonding timeline? The former is a recipe for dithering and decay, but the latter I could live with. ST3 doesn’t get us locked into a situation we can’t get out of, it gives us the legal authority to levy taxes and build things. Those taxes can be altered or rescinded in subsequent years, or projects deferred or delayed, if things go drastically south. 25 years is a long time for a lot of things to change. All ST3 does is give them permission to get started, using conservative assumptions of regional economic health. Every project stil has to go through the insanely comprehensive Project Development, EIS, and public outreach processes.

      3. This has all happened before. And it could (but might not) happen again.

        ST in 1996 started with assumptions about the cost of building rail that were too optimistic. They didn’t feel stuck building the whole thing. They scaled back and slowed down. Then, in the ST2 years, there was another recession, and a station was scaled back out of ST2. If the financial assumptions prove too optimistic, ST knows how to scale back.

      4. Of course I want public investment in transit. But I also want public investment in a lot more areas too. Carlyle says: “As a state legislator I cannot in good conscience support an inequitable and unstable financing plan in one isolated silo of public services—no matter how valued and important to our future”
        The other silos are education, utilities, roads and bridges, mental health, poverty, and the yes, some natural disasters every so often.
        I’m unaware of any other mega projects that indebts society out for so many decades without extreme scrutiny by the voters. I don’t think a weak ST3 with so many dubious transit projects built into it passes muster in November.

      5. So, I should not have used the term “head tax”. What is needed is something like Tri-Met’s small percentage of compensation.

        But of course that is “dangerously” like an income tax, isn’t it? Even if it’s businesses who are “paying” it.

    2. ST is very conservative. There’s a state-mandated bond:asset cap and ST goes further to I think 1:1, so that it can pay off the bonds even if something like the 2008 crash occurs again. That’s what makes the timeline long but it also makes the interest rate low. If revenues drop significantly ST will do what it did last time: defer or cancel some projects. And if the future is different than expected in twenty years, the public can pressure ST to modify the package in another vote. I have suggested that maybe Issaquah and Everett will have second thoughts before their construction starts.

      “Whatever happened to pay as you go?”

      We have a 50-year backlog of transit infrastructure. If we don’t build it now we’re locking in car priority further, which is high-energy-use, extremely wasteful of money, and geographically harmful to our cities.

      “Why is the business and head tax a sacred cow around here?”

      Ask the legislature, it’s not ST’s responsibility. The answer would probably be that it’s a new tax, and people are more resistant to new taxes than they are to raising existing ones. That’s the main argument against income tax. It gives them another weapon to hang you by.

      “Employers benefit greatly from this system.”

      Transit is a public asset, so the public should pay for it; that means everybody. Employers pay through the existing taxes. Employers also pay for medical insurance even though it’s not clear why they should, and it puts them at a competitive disadvantage with all other industrial countries. Adding an employer tax to the mix probably makes sense, but that’s just a symptom of the fundamental problem that the tax structure is regressive.

    3. The head tax would have brought in a lot less revenue than any of the other sources, and it would have had to come from all over the district, not just downtown employers.

      We’ve been through this in Seattle. The cost of administering the tax was so large compared to the revenue (and at $2 a month per employee, it still would be) that it didn’t stick around very long.

      If Carlyle didn’t want ST using property tax, he should not have voted to authorize ST to do so. But he did. The only reason I can see for a legislator to vote for the combined billions-for-freeways-without-voter-approval-and-ST3-subjext-to-voter-approval package, and then come out against ST3, is if that legislator did not want ST3 to pass but supported the money grab for the freeway lobby, which is itself going to suck a lot of wind out of voters’ willingness to pass more taxes.

      1. The analysis in your bold face section is probably right on. But it does come as a surprise from Carlyle.

        And why is “administering the tax” expensive? Every employer has to report hours worked by employment category to the Department of Labor and Industries. I don’t know how often the report is required, but it is required. And it’s all on a computer in Olympia somewhere (we can hope on at least two…..).

        Total hours worked for an employer in a calendar year divided by 171.3 gives the number of person months worked in a year. Companies could pay it when they pay their L&I premiums.

        You’d need the same people in Olympia to audit the L&I reports and one (partial) person at Sound Transit to prepare reports and keep track of the sub-area business.

      2. The legislation authorizes a tax of $2 per employee, not $2 per full-time equivalent. That’s a little more, and at least punishes businesses a tiny bit for part-timing their core staff to avoid benefits. But to say that is more progressive than taxing wealth (via taxing property) is a stretch on Carlyle’s part. I suppose property tax will hit his pocketbook much more than a head tax.

        Moreover, taxing property is a more urbanist approach that encourages more intense land use, such as taller apartments, and office buildings instead of office parks with acres of surface parking. Taxing commerce works in the opposite direction.

      3. If they are going to rely on property tax then for gawds sake reflect the true valuation on commercial property and quite pushing the burdon on residential property owners. I don’t know about the other counties in the ST district but if King County simply adjusted commercial property assessments to reflex true market value, like they pretty much do for residential, there would be no need for any additional taxes. Developers and land speculators are getting a free ride and they benefit the most from the capital improvements.

      4. Bernie, if they’re not doing this now it seems they’d be in violation of the equalization laws. Of course, cities around the country give developers tax breaks for certain “marquee” projects. It would be nice to have municipal governments that just said “No”.

        But that will never happen because so much of economic growth is growth itself.

    4. Sound Transit is authorized to collect an employee head tax of up to $2 per employee but doesn’t currently. It was authorized as either part of ST2 or Sound Move.

      1. $2 per month per employee per what? 2 million or so employees in the Puget Sound region?

        $48 million a year, minus administrative costs?

        So, basically, a couple of scattered RapidRide improvements and that’s it?

      2. $2 per employee was a ‘tickler’ rate just to get a toe in the water, much like electronic tolling is doing starting with a bridge, then an HOV lane and eventually something that actually generates revenue. ST never went in that direction, and never pressed Olympia to use it or increase it. Portland seems to make it work.
        ST3 boils down to asking voters to “Trust Us” – for the next 50 years. That’s a tough sell for an agency that made grand promises in Sound Move (22 lane freeway capacity equivalents, extremely conservative cost and ridership projections, project timelines), before the big project reset leading up to ST2. Since then, they have been reliable. Will voters have long memories? I have no idea, but this is the biggest leap of faith tried for transit.

      3. The TriMet tax is a value of payroll tax not a per employee tax. It works for operations but it means that an executive salary generates more tax revenue than a store clerk.

        TriMet’s tax, applied only to a few individuals at Microsoft, could probably change SoundTransit in a radical way. However, that type of payroll tax isn’t allowed.

    5. ST will not raise all the bonds at once the day after the election and lock in the state budget for fifty years. It will raise a few bonds at a time to pay for specific projects. The legislature’s budget calculation was based on a 15-year construction cycle, so it should have known that expense would exist. The only thing new is extending the program ten more years. 25, not 50, The difference is all in the last ten years, and the savings ST can leverage by having one program rather than two. The legislature can cut or revoke the tax authority at any time as long as it allows all the outstanding bonds to be paid. That’s only the bonds that have been raised so far, not all the bonds thoughout the entire program. If it becomes necessary to chop the last ten or fifteen years off the program, then ST will cancel projects, and the bonds for those projects will never exist.

      1. +1. In a sense ST3 is actually a “pay as you go” package, not a 25 year loan. ST will borrow as it needs to complete the projects.

        Also, the idea that there’s a cap on the taxes the state can levy is just false. The legislature can raise as much money as it wants. If Representative Carlyle wants someone to blame for the legislature’s failures he should look in the mirror.

      2. I’m at a loss how racking up more than $16 bn in debt is pay as you go.
        Much of that debt is for long term bonds sold between 2030 and 2041, which pushes the taxes out to beyond 50 years from now.

      3. You just said, “sold between 2030 and 2041”. It’s not pay as you go, but it’s not obligating 2040s taxes now either. I’m sure in 2030 there will be a discussion whether to stay the course or make changes. The reason the cities want to plan so far ahead is certainty: so they know they can get something at least as good as this. If something better comes along they can adjust, but if not, this can’t be taken away from them without a revote. And it gives them a timeline they can plan their cities around. The reason they won’t take “We’ll vote later” is one they’re afraid it might never happen, and two they don’t want to miss out on the prosperity of being a desirable city — they don’t want people refusling to live there or companies not locating there because they don’t have high-capacity transit. You may say most people don’t care about that, but more people do than they did ten years ago, and still more than twenty years ago. The love of cars and believing your city doesn’t need HCT is not going to increase; it’s probably at the highest now and on a decline. Transit will become more important, the population will increase, and destinations will appear in all the urban centers so it’s not as much Seattle-commute focused. Can that happen in 15 years? Of course, look at the past 15 years, and the 15 years before that.

      4. 2041 is when construction ends. The major expenses will probably be a few years earlier because the trains will have to have already arrived and the stations substantially built in order to be ready for the final months of testing. So ST may not need to sell bonds in the last couple years. That would shorten your worry timeframe a bit.

      5. I think this is the important point. ST is being granted taxing authority in order to pay back bonds that will be issued over the coming decades. If an alternate funding source or federal grants become available that money can be used to offset future bond sales. There won’t be any project more shovel ready than ST3 as we compete for federal money in the future.

        Voting against ST3 is going to push transit for Ballard back a decade at least. Yes, ST3 is going to take a long time to build, but starting over from scratch on a new plan is going to take a lot longer. And, don’t count on Ballard being given any favors in such a new plan if their elected representatives were instrumental in scuttling ST3.

  5. Ironically, using sales and property tax for ST3 (and thus raising them in the Puget Sound area about as high as people will accept) may — in the face of needing to fund McCleary — finally force the legislature to look towards more progressive funding sources. In other words, passing ST3 may, by making inaccessible the regressive taxes our state always relies on, move our state towards more progressive taxation.

    1. I do find it ironic that Carlyle is complaining about ST using the most progressive funding source he and the rest of the lege gave it. He wants ST to use the more regressive sources (and spend much less than authorized) in order to save the more progressive source (property tax) for public education.

      But even ignoring that irony, he needs to spell out his math of how ST3 would leave less than enough property tax to deal with the McCleary order. We can handle college math. Give us the math.

  6. ” Why didn’t they choose to be as courageous and innovative on the revenue side as they at least attempted to be on the spending side?”

    Given Reuven’s record, I wonder if a staff member, by an innocent mistake, left out any example at all of a single “courageous and innovative revenue course of action.

    So I think we owe it to Representative Carlyle to give him a chance to present the first badly-needed suggestions for anything specific that is both courageous and innovative.

    Because this is pretty much standard sanitary engineering. Where a major sewer main rupture has been undetected for several decades, responders definitely need considerable innovation, especially if it’s in the basement of, like, a major hotel or a hospital. And fast.

    For work like that, courage probably less necessary than a good hazmat suit and a really strong stomach. So soon as possible, some big, powerful fans start restoring the oxygen. So, Representative Carlyle, check with Metro Water Quality for Ballard.

    Same agency will be helping build our Ballard-UW Tunnel and the line to Downtown and West Seattle. So Reuven, you’ll have some valuable information we voters need for the brave and refreshing measures you’ve got planned.

    Meanwhile, I need some advice. Since I now across the lake from your office, and look forward to my first LINK ride to Ballard- anything down here I can do to help you?

    Mark Dublin

  7. If I lived in LD36, I would definitely vote for ST3 because the plan is built with Seattlites in mind. But I don’t. I live in Tacoma. My LD wouldn’t see a single new rail station and our biggest transportation infrastructure problem, the Cross Base Highway, would be, once again, pushed aside. The fact is that ST3 is not innovative or bold. I am all in favor of public transit, especially light rail, but it must be done in such a way that prepared to adapt to the changing realities of our region. ST3 fails on that measure. We’ve shown up to a twerking party only knowing how to do the box waltz.

    1. Seriously? Seattlites? I’m sure we’re all going to flock to Paine Field the moment those stations open.

    2. No package can serve all constituents. It really sucks that you won’t, where you live now, see direct benefits. But expand your thinking for a minute: will some I-5 commuters take the light rail instead of driving? Is it possible that in the next 25 years you might move somewhere near light rail, sounder, or ST buses? What about your family or friends?

      Another way to think about ST3 is a step towards a car free community. A good regional transit system, combined with good growth policies, is the foundation of an urban car free ideal.

    3. That station would be the end of a line that links Tacoma to the regional light rail system, so it’s very useful- it’s like having a highway that’s only a mile long, but links a town to the rest of the sta. Also, ST3 is about transit, not roads, so the Cross Base Highway would have to wait for a roads package. It’s also plenty bold and innovative- it’s a region wide system and is built over 50 years, a package that has never been proposed for light rail in the U.S before. A system this large has also never been proposed in one go.

      1. Remember too, Bob, that the fifty years ahead are beginning with an explosive amount of construction and also residential relocation. Which could either facilitate or obliterate a large amount of land use planning.

        There’s no reason a highway across a military base can’t have electric rail either instead of it or alongside it. Because at the rate development is going, question isn’t whether that area will be developed, but whether the work will be Signature 1955 or 2055. Anything we just let happen, will do so badly.

        Like anything else that has to function through high-powered uncertainty, the project has to be designed to be flexible. But it’s even more important, and harder, to keep the machinery in strong, skilled hands with a wise brains behind them.

        Based on Seattle’s reputation, deserved or not, this could be ST3’s worst problem. But my sense of the people coming of age with the beginning of this work is that they’ll do just fine.


      2. Wasn’t the cross-base highway one of the projects covered by the $15B in highway construction authorized, without voter approval, in the same bill that authorized ST to seek voter approval for ST3?

    4. “The fact is that ST3 is not innovative or bold. I am all in favor of public transit, especially light rail, but it must be done in such a way that prepared to adapt to the changing realities of our region.”

      Branden, I’ll ask you the same question I put to Representative Carlyle. I think everybody reading this page would strongly support the approaches you’re asking for. Which is why specifics are so important.

      I think our Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel is an excellent example for you. We built the hardest part of our regional electric rail system first, designed to be operated with dual-power buses, and then go through a period of joint use with trains- where we are now- to be converted to light rail only.

      But I’ve always thought that the DSTT’s main proof of success is that we persuaded a half dozen suburbs to help pay for an expensive subway that their residents would not be able to ride trains through for decades.

      Which they haven’t, as yet. Which I never thought they’d stand for. My own guess is that we’re about ten years behind where we’d hoped to be when we started. But nobody has “bailed” in 30 years. Including through a bad economy in 1992, and a Force 10 disaster in 2008.

      So I think ST3’s hardest “sell”- amount of time taxpayers have to wait for service- will succeed or fail on interim measures that start delivering service early, which smoothly and steadily scales up. And transitions to many future “ST-s”.

      Favorite short-term advancements: A long-overdue second I-5 transit lane between Northgate and Mercer, since we don’t know how much longer the DSTT can handle buses. And also, complete the T-junction at Ash Way Park and Ride for through express service to Everett.

      Also, extending Sounder service ten minutes past Dupont across the Nisqually River to Olympia-Lacey station, which is a 20 minute express bus ride to the Capitol. All of which is more than perfectly compatible with ST-3 plans for Seattle itself.

      So you’re right about the goal. Which is beyond possible to mandatory for passage. So really, any solid plans of action are better campaign contributions than anything green you can put in an envelope.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Thanks, Mark. Good question. I don’t want to be the Debbie Downer for ST3. I actually want to be able to support it, I just can’t given its current configuration. I also absolutely agree that the system needs to extend to Olympia. What I suspect many Seattlites may not understand, by no fault of their own, is that the typical commuter from Tacoma is very different than most other parts of the region. That is, the commuter can and does go any number of directions including south.

        This is also not a matter of “I won’t see the benefit directly, so I won’t vote for it”. That is the same argument some people make when they vote against school bonds. It is as dumb there as it would be here. A well designed transportation system benefits everyone. I am certainly not disputing that at all.

        What I am disputing is the well designed part. I don’t have the same “no cars” utopia some on this blog do. Why? I have children. That isn’t to say some the mass transit only utopians don’t also have children, but I can tell you that it is incredibly difficult to get around with three kids using transit only.

        As I have mentioned on this blog before, I believe that the plan is not well thought out because it doesn’t appear to be adaptable to the changing transportation demands and modes. In 25 years we will have autonomous cars, which should significantly improve traffic flow. I also believe that in order relieve congestion, which for those of us in my area is the main concern, we need to be investing in BRT using shuttle buses, which are cheaper to purchase and operate.

        In terms of the Cross Base Highway, I know that this is a separate issue in terms of the actual ST3 proposal, but I was speaking to a larger point of reducing congestion in areas of Pierce and Thurston Counties. No, it wasn’t included in the last transportation package, which was a real failure of local legislators, in my opinion.

    5. It was the people in Pierce County who pushed for the Link extension to Tacoma, through their elected representatives in the cities. If they didn’t want it, ST wouldn’t be doing it. I don’t understand how the Cross-Base Highway affects somebody in Tacoma because I thought it was people in Lakewood and further south who would use it. But in any case, the state considered it in its highway bill, and I can’t keep track of whether it was ultimately in or out. But ST3 has nothing to do with the Cross-Base Highway: it doesn’t make it any more or less likely.

    6. I agree with you Branden. As someone from South King County, this has a strong possibility to make our commute worse while paying more. This is great for Seattle, and maybe ST3 will make the Sounder better. The “spine” is a useless idea and harmful south of the airport. I am in a quandary about my decision because so much good comes from this project, but not where I live. So, should I vote no and hope they create a better solution or vote yes and pay more for less service while others benefit?

      1. Nobody knows yet what the final Sounder package will be. You’ll want to wait until the thing is in its final presented form before deciding to vote yes or no. Most of the talk has been about light rail, since that is the likn’s share of the package, but that isn’t the only part.

      2. Bob is very likely to be right. Unless WSDOT provides bus-only lanes in the I-5 corridor the buses will be crippled, probably before 2030. There has been less than zero indication that buses are anywhere in DOT’s list of priorities above those of pedestrians.

      3. “Most of the talk has been about light rail, since that is the likn’s share of the package”

        Most of the talk has been about light rail because that’s what STB people love to talk about.

    7. It seems to me all the cross-base highway will do is create more linear parking lots in which to get stuck.

      If it were me I would have pushed for all day DuPont to Tacoma Sounder or something, but that’s not what Pierce County asked for.

      It doesn’t help that the vast expanse of JBLM doesn’t pay property taxes to help solve the transportation issues it creates.

    8. I’m glad you got your ass kicked by David Sawyer. Your values obviously are a better fit to Idaho. You might consider moving back.

      1. Thanks for the advice, Willis. He better hope he never has to run against me one on one or he I won’t be the one getting my “ass kicked.” I look forward to next time.

    9. The Cross-Base Highway is our biggest transpo problem? Are you fucking kidding me? As a Tacoma resident, I assume that you’ve slogged by the dome many times, right?

      Of course, Pierce County’s real transportation problem is the land use policies that make the cross-base highway necessary. The highway shouldn’t be built because the area it serves should be farmland.

      1. It is indeed being “fixed”. That is one honkin’ big freeway DOT is building through the south end of Tacoma!

  8. Maybe it’s the effect or cause of forty years of Max Max and zombie apocalypse movies (Book or Revelations mentions zombies even less than gay marriage).

    But the worst governing idea ever to grip this country is that the future will inevitably poorer and narrower than the present. Look, Nature is with us.In fifty years, majority of present Washington State legislature will be proving that her own term limits work. 3 X 20 (a “score”) +10. Right?

    Major caution, though. It’s world-wide tribal wisdom that it’s safest never to call the dead by name to prevent their unwelcome return. Or the half-or brain-dead. Or their formaldehyde scented ideas either.

    So, fortunately, few commenters even remember who Tim Eyman is- let alone former Governor Gary Locke, who turned over control of our State’s budget to him? Let alone John Niles (damn, I just mentioned one!). Ok, Ok (cue the crucifixes, garlic, and Dr. Van Helsing) we’re trying to couple buses together!

    However, there’s one supernatural horror young enough to still haunt the ruins, surrounded by hordes of 60 year old former 10 year old girls, of Freighthouse Square when the Lemay Museum swallows the Tacoma Dome ten years before the bonds mature. Nobody better even look up “Twerking”.

    Uh oh. Billy Ray Cyrus, this is all your fault. Hope you’ve got everything invested in ST3 bonds when Reuven proves right! Anyhow, though like him, me, and the whole Washington State Legislature…main thing is make sure all none of our names end up carved on anything granite!


  9. Publicola is still around? Plus, I think you mean a traffic-free subway “around” Queen Anne.

  10. Zach and many posters misstate the office Carlyle holds; he is the state Senator from the 36th District, not a representative.

    Both ST3 and public education funding face long odds. The former has to pass in the ST district in November. (The south Link spine was included in the measures defeated in 1995 and 2007). The latter must overcome opposition from the Republicans in the two chambers. Perhaps the Carlyle suggestion is that ST3 makes it more difficult to get yes votes for education funding among Legislators and constituents in the swing districts outside the 36th. The Rs seem to suggest they would fund education if only the Ds would go along with reducing most other state programs. The willingness to tax is much higher in the 36th than in most of the ST district.

    A second way that ST3 seems to take the air out of a room is in regards the Metro local option. In 2009, the agreement between the three executives to replace the SR-99 AWV with the deep bore tunnel included a one percent MVET for Metro. It was on the county legislative agenda for several years; last year, it was replaced by the ST3 authorization. The deep bore program still has an uncertain southend pathway and time is running quite short. The one percent MVET would have funded many transit improvements an forestalled the reductions.

    This is all without considering ST3 on its merits.

    1. Rooms can only contain so much air, so I have to wonder if Metro really does need more of it.
      If replacing equipment in a manufacturing plant is a good analogy, consider the use of robotics to assemble cars, replacing many less efficient and more expensive laborers. Link in effect should be doing that with mass transit, effectively replacing bus service that is more expensive and less efficient, but that’s not the way it works out. What if the factory manager kept all the employees on the payroll, but now doing less for the same salary. That would be a waste of resources, right? Should Metro automatically have to ‘re-deploy’ all those hours of service replaced into lower productivity routes? And at the same time get more funding to further expand service beyond what they now do?
      Growing the system overall is a good idea, but ST3 at best only raises all of transits mode share from 4 to 5%. I have to wonder if all that air could have supported more primates.

      1. Dude,

        This discussion is about redeploying the Sound Transit Express (hereinafter known as “STEX”) bus hours freed when the expresses from far South King and Pierce and far north Snohomish no longer run to and from downtown Seattle.

        Metro is not an issue. They will still run their commuter expresses if the King County Council deems them necessary and proper.

      2. If that were the case my analogy would be true. Mode share remains flat as both Metro and now Link operating budgets rise far in excess of both inflation and population growth. ST3 continues that pattern far into the future.
        BTW, transit spending in relation all the other needs of society is the topic.

    2. Jack, King COunty Metro is developing a long range plan that depends on integration with future ST3 bus and rail projects. If ST3 does not pass and take some of the load off. Metro will only be in a deeper hole. The question of where Metro’s additional funding comes from has not been answered for many years. The voters currently have a higher opinion of ST and their service than Metro’s unfortunately. Saying no to the suite of projects in ST3 will further delay capacity-building, grade-separated transit projects in our most congested corridors.

    3. Metro HAS a long-range plan draft. It’s essentially in a “Pre-proposal for public discussion” status now. If ST3 fails, Metro will have to rewrite it. We can guess what it might contain by taking Metro’s desires in the LRP, emphasizing those that Metro has proposed multiple times since 2012, restoring existing lines that can’t be deleted without ST3, and cutting until the hours balance. The LRP is unfunded; it would require more hours than a revenue-neutral restructure, even after deleting routes ST3 would duplicate. The 1% MVET could have been a means for funding it, but there has been no discussion of how closely that level would match the need.


    ST3 taxation was part of the statewide transportation package that funded many new limited access highways. Some liberals voted no; see Fitzgibbon and Dunsee. Carlyle was in the House for that vote.

    This is parallel to the Atlanta experience that folks mention when discussing Forward Thrust. MARTA used the federal funds that could have gone to a King County high capacity rail network. But Atlanta also built a large limited access highway network and has sprawl and traffic congestion. King and Clibborn forced the liberals who wanted ST3 authorization to pay a political price.

  12. I do not care where it goes or how much it is, even if it just a penny, property taxes are evil and need to be eliminated. No one should have to pay rent to the government, at the point if a gun, to keep what they already own.

    1. I used to think that too, Matthew. The problem is that there’s only a finite amount of land. If I own a lot in the middle of downtown Bellevue, I’m preventing anyone else from owning land at that location – so I am affecting others, and there’s a decent reason for me to pay something to society (i.e. the government representing society) for that.

  13. Reuven isn’t being well intentioned, he’s chasing attention for himself as always: grandstanding.

    He offers no solution, just dreams of something better. That’s par for him.

    it’s the reason why he drives people crazy. And the big reason why he should not be re-elected.

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