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[Update 2:30pm: I originally misread the tweet below “another day” as “tomorrow”. We’re not sure when this is coming to vote, but it doesn’t appear to be today. Sorry for the error.]

For obscure scheduling reasons, House Democrats delayed action on HB2201, which would take over $2 billion out of Sound Transit’s funding. It’s a good time to call your representatives in the House.

Car tab fees inspire an unusual amount of passion in opponents, possibly because they are assessed in a single, annual lump sum. Nevertheless, it is a curious priority for the new Democratic majority to immediately slap fervent supporters that care deeply about the environment and transit, while so many other policy priorities languish.

I have no particular love for the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, but if legislators insist that it’s too inflammatory, they are morally obligated to make the Puget Sound region whole through some combination of direct appropriations, reduced sales tax exemptions on commerce, and a tax exemption for Sound Transit projects. It’s the minimum they can do for a local electorate that voted decisively for better transit, and are now seeing statewide government chip away at it on behalf of whomever happens to be yelling the loudest right now.

80 Replies to “The Day is Coming for Car Tab Legislation”

  1. Environmentalists made a deal with the devil so to say by allowing the state highway package to pass (with no citizen vote) in exchange for the taxing authority for ST3.

    If the legislature reneges and cuts this funding without back-filling it then clearly we cannot support any future bargain on roads.

    1. You speak as if not having either wouldn’t have its own environmental degradation. the lack of seamless convenient transit makes people drive more, regardless of whether new roads are built, and it keeps us in a fifty-year glass jar of not having a low-energy way to move around. The double standard of “roads don’t need a vote, transit does” is the result of the glass jar and how it shapes non-transit-enthusiasts’ attitudes. We can’t break the jar so quickly, we can only get what bits of transit we can, and hopefully the jar will get more cracks over time (meaning people changing their minds) until it doesn’t hold together so well. Then we could break more substantial chunks out of it (e.g., a level playing field for transit bills and road bills). If the jar weren’t there it would be Paris and Amsterdam all over the place, because presumably we’d do what most industrialized countries are doing.

      1. Absolutely true, Joe. But they shouldn’t be “grants”. They should be a simple “expenditure”. If we want inter-county transit to be a State responsibility, we need to stop begging and budget for State participation.

      2. Right, we don’t have grants every ten year to see which counties will have library services or police, or which two or three highways will be open. But if you don’t have a car, better hope your county got a transit grant that decade. This is something where city dwellers actually want service in rural areas and are willing to subsidize it, like we want rural areas to have good schools and clean water and well-maintained roads to agricultural markets.

  2. Done. “Please preserve the integrity of ST3 and do not change the MVET schedule, or if you do, replace it with other funds or tax authority. Puget Sound needs effective regional transit, we’ve waited too long, and the incomplete state of it hinders people’s mobility and the region’s economic potential. The entire state needs Puget Sound’s full economic potential to fund the rest of the state. It’s not ST’s responsibility to remind legislators of their own laws and MVET schedules.”

    1. But it is ST’s responsibility to make sure their transit measure, as it appears on the ballot, complies with WA law. This is where ST3 failed. We are just lucky that the Cons down in Olympia are so inept that they didn’t pursue the legitimate legal challenge.

    2. That is for a judge to decide. It has not been proven. But that has little to do with this bill, except maybe increasing its political popularity. The judge will determine whether ST is using the MVET schedule that’s effective in law. The legislature is trying to change the schedule or tie up loose ends in previous laws. Those are two different things.

      1. “That is for a judge to decide.” That’s exactly my point. This is where the Cons demonstrated their ineptitude. The remainder of your reply isn’t relevant as you’re conflating other discussions with the central point of my original response.

      2. You’re saying ST is guilty. “This is where ST3 failed.”

        “We are just lucky that the Cons down in Olympia are so inept that they didn’t pursue the legitimate legal challenge.”

        I don’t know what you consider the legitimate legal challenge to be, or how accurate you are.

        “The remainder of your reply isn’t relevant as you’re conflating other discussions with the central point of my original response.”

        Relevant to what? The central point of this article is HB2201 regarding changing the MVET schedule, not about whether ST3 is legal or not.

  3. Even Seattle legislators seem to not care about an potential budget hit, as seen in this thread from Rep Tarleton:

    As all three 36th district (Ballard, Magnolia) seats were unopposed last election, maybe we need to have more progressive candidates run against them from the left, so they feel pressure to actually represent Seattle and Puget Sound voters.

    1. For clarification the bill would result in adjustment to the methodology for calculating the car tab but not a removal of the car tab?

      I do appreciate this section in 2201 –

      If, when implementing the program, the authority is not able to deliver projects according to the system and financing plan approved by the authority’s voters in 2016, the authority must identify savings and cost reductions in the following priority order: First, from parking facility projects; second, from commuter rail projects; third, from transit bus-related projects; and fourth, from light rail projects.

      So at the end of the day any cuts in funding from the change in calculating car tabs will lead to reductions in parking facilities.

      1. Yes. It would only change the calculation. Reducing a fair amount in early years, with a slight increase in later years. The bigger deal is that ST would have to retire existing bonds funded under the current MVET depreciation schedule… this costs ST somewhere between $700m and $2b depending on where I’ve read.

        I do like the parking cost clause in the legislation, but subarea equity is still a thing, and the North King Subarea has little to no parking in ST3 (along with no commuter rail and only 1 BRT project), so for Ballard and West Seattle cuts could potentially have to come from itself.

      2. I couldn’t disagree more about this legislative language for a number of reasons. Why do we have the RTA in the first place if their directives are coming from Olympia? Do we no longer think ST can manage their own finances? How is this fair to the communities on the I-405 corridor that will not be getting any light rail? Of course, subarea equity would still be in play as well, thereby making it far more complicated adhering to this new set of priority guidelines than it would appear on its face.

      3. This passage is nonsense because the hole that will be blown in he budget is far larger than the amount of money spent on parking and the lower priority items.

        Almost certainly if this passes we will lose grade separation to Ballard.

      4. I like the parking provision too, and it’s how ST should have prioritized things in the first place, but it’s like one real jewel in a chest of radioactive junk jewelry.

      5. “Which is fine, there’s very little upside to grade separation in the 15th W corridor.”

        It’s not. Speed is important. Reliability from Ballard to Tacoma is important. Haven’t we learned from MLK?

      6. “there’s very little upside to grade separation in the 15th W corridor.”

        Let’s finish the studies and alternatives analysis before assuming that. It all depends on exactly where the train goes if it’s not separated. We shouldn’t assume no problem, nor should the legislature be making a de facto decision on it.

      7. Ron, it depends whether loss of grade separation results in building at-grade alongside the rail yard and at the base of the hillside along Elliott or down the middle of Elliott and 15th West. If “a” then trains can run at speed. If “b” they will be limited to the stroad speed limit as they are on MLK. Also, who the hell wants to stand underneath the Dravus Bridge to catch a train? What a miserable, noisy place.

      8. What’s the point of this entire project if there is no grade separation? It would just be a slow streetcar with one stop in Ballard. The only reason to do this is to provide a faster way to get downtown.

        In addition to that, we’ve seen from the rainier Valley that non-grade separated light rail runs people over on a regular basis. The trains can’t stop fast enough.

      9. MLK is a corridor with many busy cross streets. Thanks to topography and land use, 15th has virtually none as Emerson, Dravus, Galer, and the Expedia/Port Access roads are already grade separated. Add an overpassing at Galer and prohibit some left turns, and boom: you can build in a raised median from the Expedia station to the Dravus station.

        Besides, that would represent desirable traffic calming for 15th, losing three lanes to a nice cobblestoned trackway.

      10. What Ron said. There is a big difference between 15th and MLK in terms of cross streets. You could easily give trains the right of way every three minutes if you wanted, and it wouldn’t matter (whereas MLK is limited to every six minutes). The trains would run down the middle of the street. If you wanted to, you could simply ban crossings everywhere. That would mean someone would have to turn right, and find the nearest overpass if they wanted to turn left. But there are so few instances where someone really should be doing that anyway. The only significant street is Gilman, and folks could just turn around at Dravus.

        No, the big, scary thing is if they decide to run the train on the surface *through downtown*. That is much worse, yet within the realm of possibility. If I’m not mistaken, that was one of the original proposals.

        The other possibility is that they just punt, and build half of this. This means we have West Seattle rail, but not Ballard. That would be a terrible result, given that West Seattle rail is by far the least important part of ST3 in Seattle, and arguably worse than two possible Seattle lines (Ballard to UW rail and the Metro 8 subway).

      11. “At-grade” means lying on the ground; i.e., not elevated. It’s a separate issue from whether it’s so close to a car lane it’s limited to car speed, or whether it has level crossings or grade-separated crossings. Link in Shoreline and south King County will be at-grade i the freeway with no level crossings, taking advantage of the already-existing grade-separated crossings. The part about lying on the ground is what makes it inexpensive and thus attractive from a low-budget standpoint.

        15th Ave W is an expressway and thus has grade-separated crossings already. That’s what made this surface alignment viable in the first place. ST learned its lesson from MLK and is not building any more of those on Central Link. ST2 was fully grade-separated at one point (meaning no level crossings) but then added a couple to sqleeze money for the Bellevue tunnel. ST3 is on line to have zero level crossings except maybe the Ballard Bridge, so let’s keep it that way. That doesn’t mean we have to be afraid about running it on the ground.

      12. “There is a big difference between 15th and MLK in terms of cross streets.”

        In particular, 15th is what MLK would look like if the Thompson Expressway had been built.

      13. Mike, you’re conflating “at-grade” with “grade-separated” north of Northgate. Yes, at some places the tracks will certainly be “grade-separated”, because the entire freeway envelope is “grade-separated”.

        While it’s true that one can’t have traffic conflicts for “grade-separated” transit (except with other trains), it is entirely possible to have conflict-free “at-grade” transit which CAN be just as reliable as elevated or subway trackage.

        Ross is correct that it’s possible to put an impassible median down Elliott and 15th West, but IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!

      14. I should have said “will be on the ground but will still be ‘grade-separated’ …”

      15. Mike, you’re conflating “at-grade” with “grade-separated” north of Northgate. Yes, at some places the tracks will certainly be “grade-separated”, because the entire freeway envelope is “grade-separated”.

        Yes, the problem is that people use the word “at-grade” for two different things and it gets unclear which is meant. I used the phrase “130th Station” for years before realizing there were two 130th Stations, because every time I used it I was only thinking about the context of North Seattle or Bellevue and I never looked at both together. But to be clear, the only problem with at-grade alignments is if they have level crossings, or if their speed limit is artificially reduced due to adjacent parallel car lanes. If they can run 55 mph, no problem.

        Part of the area between Northgate and Mountlake Terrace is at-grade I don’t remember if it’s technically in Shoreline but it’s a long stretch around 145th and/or 185th station, because ST was emphasizing it in its open houses. “No level crossings, but no cost of an elevated guideway.”)

        I think that’s what’s behind the Interbay alternative: it can avoid the cost of elevation without level crossings. ST has been royally whipped about level crossings in every segment that’s been designed since MLK: no neighborhood or city wants them, and they’re willing to pay more taxes to avoid them, because they prevent the train from running at freeway speed. The original plan was going to be at-grade with crossings from Mt Baker to SeaTac, and presumably on to Federal Way and Tacoma (I don’t think anybody calculated what the travel time would be). But Tukwila said no trains on recently-renovated International Boulevard, and no trains through a corner of Southcenter’s property, so it all got elevated. Then every community said no level crossings and ST started assuming it as a baseline. The Bellevue one got in, an ST rep reassured me at a Bellevue open house, because “It’s a very low-volume street”, like a Seattle residential street. I don’t know exactly where the Redmond ones are but I’m hoping they’re as minor.

        So the Interbay alternative to my understanding is predicated on no level crossings except maybe the Ballard bridge. Otherwise they’d revive the Ballard streetcar proposal, which would also serve Fremont. So I think ST is assuming it can run somewhere in the 15th median or on the side without crossings, or in the railroad ROW. If that turns out to be infeasible we’ll deal with it then.

      16. Mike, I read your comment again and now see that you were saying the same thing. My apologies.

    2. It would lower the depreciation curve on cars, which would lower total revenue to ST, while it would have mixed effects on car owners depending on the car and year, but generally charging less for cars in early years (often well-off owners who change cars often) and more for cars in late years (often working-class people who just need a vehicle that moves and can’t afford to get a newer one, or see no reason to change cars unnecessarily).

      Voting for people should be based on the entire person and the district’s entire situation, not one-issue litmus tests.

    3. “Even Seattle legislators seem to not care about an potential budget hit,”

      It’s not the first time. Part of your ST taxes are going to education. It was part of a multi-way deal between making road projects’ materials exempt from sales tax because they’re funded by the gas tax and gas is exempt from sales tax, and therefore creating a hole in education funding, and filling that hole by taking it out of any money raised by future ST taxes.

      1. Another calculation, though, Mike. In general, the better educated they are, the more reliably people vote for transit.

        And since Washington’s voting age is 18, fair number of people in high school will be able both to vote and run for State Legislature this fall.

        How about word to everybody in a transit workers’ uniform including transit police and fare inspectors, be extremely courteous to this age group. Who, from my Route 7 experience, really do appreciate and reciprocate.


        So whichever way they vote today, good idea for transit advocates form close working relationship with both their State Reps on education committees, and their school-board members and teachers.

        Like Government itself, a car tab is neither a friend nor an enemy, but a tool to be used for good public purposes. That the Republicans will never see coming ’til they shake their head “No” and it falls off.


    4. Tartleton has revealed herself to be profoundly clueless on the relevant details. It’s hard to read her interaction with Zach and others and conclude she’s fit for office. Obviously, the big goal for 2018 election is to get Republicans out of power to the greatest extent possible, but if a challenger emerged who actually supported transit and paid some attention to policy detail (and didn’t accuse constituents more knowledgeable than her of being Trumpian) I would strongly consider making a donation.

    1. It also failed in East King and South King. All told, 14 of the 24 legislative districts in the RTA voted no.

      Sure, 50%+1 is all that matters for passing the ballot measure. But it isn’t a broad mandate. A lot of pro-transit legislators represent districts that voted no. They feel no home pressure to defend Sound Transit on every last point, and they view the valuation formula as indefensible on fairness grounds.

      1. Depending on the district, some may not feel a strong inclination to support this, either. Kirkland got hosed, for example. Hard to imagine anyone from, say, Totem Lake being excited about light rail from South Kirkland Park and ride to Bellevue (and Issaquah). You really have to appeal to their greater sense of fairness — as in “folks voted for this, warts and all”, or the belief that nothing better will come from a cutback. I’m in that category for sure. I opposed ST3, because I thought we could do better. But short changing the system isn’t going to get us there. Rather than do something that in my opinion would be better (Ballard to UW rail + WSTT) you would simply get ST3 light, which would involve cutting or delaying some of the pieces that actually make sense, rather than building something better. They are more likely to remove stations, run the train on the surface through downtown or delay Ballard/Interbay rail even further than they are building a new bus tunnel or Ballard to UW rail.

      2. @seattleite, most immediately, I noted those numbers from a legislative debate. But King County Elections has, or had, the results by legislative district. Maybe the others too.

      3. “Kirkland got hosed”

        Kirkland hosed itself by not being unified. The city council said “Keep trains away, and we won’t upzone” and the Save Our Trail activists said “Hell no keep all transit out!!!” It was the most uncooperative city since the Surrey Downs mess, and this was worse because the two factions completely contradicted each other. If Kirkland had been eager for regional transit like Issaquah was, it would have gotten a lot more of it.

      4. We’re one ST district or we’re not. When measures pass overwhelmingly in Seattle and fail everywhere else, the legislature doesn’t grant us a half-measure for some of what we want. But when we win, we’re supposed to chop off part of the victory for hurt feelings.

        When they’re in charge, Republicans do not care at all what die-hard Democrats think, and Democrats should learn not to listen to Eyman fanatics that will never vote for them. If angry constituents are what move this legislature, instead of votes, then it is time to be angry.

      5. It was the outer subareas that insisted there be a single tax district including them, because they knew their voters alone wouldn’t pay for instrastructure they’d increasingly need as the population increases and those hard-to-reach cities get increasingly left behind economically. Just look at the reaction to Seattle rents or I-5 congestion in 1995, 2005, and 2015, Everyone said how awful it was then, and they couldn’t believe how much unimaginably worse it got ten years later, and that made them accept things they wouldn’t accept before. But it still hasn’t been enough to make the exurbs vote for regional transit… yet. But the rest of the region can’t just leave two million people cut off in increasing economic isolation because they can’t get through the traffic. That’s unhealthy for the whole region, and increases our carbon emissions which is also becoming a bigger deal for the planet.

      6. If North King can keep the tsx authority, truncating the thing at Highline and Lynnwood seems like the optimum solution, Do we have a deal?

        The other subareas can lower their taxes to whatever it costs to operate the ST2 system.

      7. Well said, Martin. It’s all about teh nigras [sic]and wetbacks.

        And the uppity women.

        Crude, yes, but time to remind people who we’re dealing with.

      8. Kirkland hosed itself by not being unified. The city council said “Keep trains away, and we won’t upzone” and the Save Our Trail activists said “Hell no keep all transit out!!!” It was the most uncooperative city since the Surrey Downs mess, and this was worse because the two factions completely contradicted each other. If Kirkland had been eager for regional transit like Issaquah was, it would have gotten a lot more of it.

        The city council was unified. They hired their own planning experts to look into transit options, and those experts recommended running buses on the CKC. A handful of vocal advocates wanted nothing on the trail, but those types of opponents have never stopped or scared Sound Transit before. Sound Transit made it clear from the beginning that they wanted rail, regardless of its efficacy. They weren’t interested in listening to the experts, they wanted rail on the CKC. But without the support of a sensible city council, they gave up, and just built rail somewhere else.

        So rather than improving the I-405 to 520 bus options (which the trail advocates wanted) or adding bus service to the CKC, they made one of the least sensible rail lines in our system. Because at least it was rail (which is what they wanted, and can sell). As a result, transit is much worse than it would be if they simply gave the money to Kirkland and said “run more buses”, let alone dealt with the choke points.

        It is reminiscent of SR 99 tunnel project. Some advocates said a rebuild is in order. Others said we should tear it down, improve I-5 and transit. So instead we did neither and built something worse. The tunnel won’t work well at all for cars (no ramps on Western) while I-5 and transit won’t get better. You could say that Seattle wasn’t unified, but we were unified in opposition to a tunnel. Same with Kirkland. Seattle got hosed with the SR 99 project. Kirkland got hosed with ST3.

      9. Ross B. +10

        “Sound Transit made it clear from the beginning that they wanted rail, regardless of its efficacy. They weren’t interested in listening to the experts, they wanted rail on the CKC.”

      10. I’m LOLing that we’re still having this conversation. I described the expert study here. Meanwhile, Sound Transit and the advocacy community were pushing to turn a 2,000 rider a day bus corridor into a rail line, except they would leave the main ridership center on said corridor unserved. Because rail votes, or something. When Kirkland declined to roll over to their campaign, they walked away.

        So, of course, RossB is right that Kirkland got hosed. Hard to see how is it even controversial.

      11. I could see Kirkland being hosed if their constituents wanted light rail and were ignored by the city council in response. They didn’t demand light rail nor did they support any upzoning that would make a good case for it. I think they made their NIMBY bed and decided to lie in it.

    2. But Ms. Tarleton represents Seattle voters who supported ST3 overwhelmingly. That’s what folks are complaining to her about. Drive around Ballard and you won’t see a lot of late model cars. You will, however, see a lot of cars….

  4. This is about good government at its core and we should all support a MVET schedule that reflects Kelly Blue Book Value, not a depreciation schedule from published MSRP which no one ever pays. That or require the government to buy my Honda Civic for $18k on their depreciation schedule, even though it is only worth $12k on the market. The inability of government to even consider what people experience in the market is the very nexus of this problem. Fix this and help restore trust in government in at least this one small way.

    1. I see the argument for this, but Sound Transit must be made whole. They wrote the proposition with the assumption that they would get a certain level of revenue, as permitted by the Legislature, so they damn better get that revenue. If it isn’t going to be from the MVET, then it better be from somewhere.

    2. If that’s true it was also true years ago when the original MVET law was written. Yanking taxes around without considering their impacts on existing projects is bad governance, because the purpose of government is all the collective services it provides. Why are certain projects under this tax while others are under different taxes? Because the legislature said so, the same legislature that put the higher MVET schedule into law. So if that legislature now decides it’s unfair and must be changed now, it should compensate the projects predicated on it. Because public transit needs don’t go away simply because a tax is unfair: you can’t ride an MVET schedule.

    3. “Blue Book” value cannot be surety for bonding because it’s not predictable.

      This is all a Kabuki of political theater because there’s a very good chance that at least a few ST3 bonds have already been sold.

      1. They did, but terming it a rebate means they can layer on a repayment program despite already having obligated some of that bond payment. There are also methods to pay the bonds off early, as we learned.

      2. Of course bonds can be “called”. Nearly every issue for fifty years has beenhasBut new bonds will be backed by impaired collateral, so they’ll pay a higher coupon.

    4. If the MVET schedule is wrong, then come up with a *revenue neutral* alternative for it. Raise other taxes, or simply raise car tab taxes to fit the other valuation. Increasing the gas tax to pay for this would be an easy fix and one that would make sense. If you are driving — in this area — you pay an extra penny or two, with the money going to transit.

      1. The State can’t raise taxes only in the RTA.

        This is where a lot of the ideas about pay-fors run aground. There’s no authority to raise other Sound Transit taxes. It would take fresh legislative authority and another ballot measure.

        Paying for this out of statewide taxes means the rest of the state is compensating us for reducing taxes on ourselves. Good luck selling that in Wenatchee.

        There is one RTA-specific pot of money, the Puget Sound taxpayer accountability account. But you’ll have to fight the teachers for that.

        There may be some more subtle way to mitigate the revenue impacts, but this isn’t an easy problem.

      2. The gas tax can’t be used for trains; it’s a constitutional thing, according to the state’s favored opinion.

        “There’s no authority to raise other Sound Transit taxes. It would take fresh legislative authority and another ballot measure.”

        The legislature can give ST a new tax without a ballot measure. The reason we had to vote on ST3 was the legislature made it a condition of the tax.

      3. “The legislature can give ST a new tax without a ballot measure. The reason we had to vote on ST3 was the legislature made it a condition of the tax.”

        That’s just not true. The Legislature simply can not impose a tax on one part of the state and not another. This is common law. It would be like a tax that made Seattle pay for everything. The only way to create a tax on a portion of the state is to create a taxing district and have it vote its own taxes.

      4. This is not imaginative enough. Eliminating sales tax exemptions (like, say, on some services) would raise lots of money for transit and local govt across the state without a public vote. Exempting RTA projects from the sale tax would reduce project costs.

        And of course, there’s simply allocating state general fund money. That may be a tough sell in Wenatchee, but it’s their representatives that are butting their heads in our business. Plus, their side lost the election and our side won, and it’s time we acted like it.

      5. So the only reason the roads package could go through without a public vote was because it’s a statewide tax? That means the idea of a voteless ST3 was doomed from the start unless the state came up with a statewidew funding mechanism outside the gas tax. The state should just create a transit fund.

  5. How long before worst possible vote today will start to damage the project “on the ground?” And how much of a fall-back does ST-3 have for any set-back?

    But most important, whatever today’s outcome, what are our next political moves? Does STB or anybody else on transit’s side have any “Go To” people planning for the election what, forty weeks from now?

    Or individually and as groups of citizens and transit workers, do we have to become them. One way or another, by day’s end, we’re going to have a dashboard gauge to read. Understanding that, for some very good reasons, politics doesn’t have Positive Train Control.

    Mark Dublin

  6. My version for my future 37th district home…

    My finance and I just bought a home in the 37th district. (We close on 2/5! EEP!) We choose our new neighborhood because of the investments that were made in Sound Transit through the wisdom of the voters in previous Sound Transit funding measures. Then when it was our turn, we both actively campaigned and voted to make ST3 a reality.

    Last fall the voters of the Sound Transit district voted strongly in favor of the suite of projects to be funded by ST3. While I have grave concerns about the broader state house/senate having any say in this local Sound Transit District issue, if the state house acts to change the Motor Vehicle Tax, you and your colleagues owe it to the voters to make ST3 whole. Be it direct appropriation, tax breaks for ST3 projects, or some other funding method, the voters have spoken.

    We campaigned, worked, and voted for this package of projects. Don’t subvert the will of the people!

  7. Can anyone clarify for me if this would change the entire 1.1 percent or just the 0.8 percent that was part of the ST3. because the original 0.3 percent based on MSRP already was change by the legislature and thrown out by the courts because it was bonded against. ST will move to the Kelley blue book value in 2028 when the original bonds for ST1 are paid off.

  8. Based on my the strongest personal experience, I think that an early introduction to public transit, and especially electric rail is a child’s first and most enjoyable experience with any politically-controlled area of life.

    No public opinion survey tells me as much about future voting behavior as being on the same train with about 35 children about eight years old on a field trip to the art museum.

    Exactly my own age when I’d take the Chicago ‘El, and subway to Chicago’s magnificent art museum for charcoal drawing lessons.

    At five, it wasn’t my fault my kindergarten teacher thought my perspective drawing of a North Shore interurban car was the best dark green crayon balloon she’d ever seen.

    By today’s age of candidacy requirements, ten years from my last black crayon Renault I could have helped select, and sit on, the governing board of the Chicago Transit Authority.

    If it hadn’t been for the Near Death Experience of transit itself in my college years, I wouldn’t have had to wait 29 years to drive my first electric thing on wheels, and would have risked being shaped into the kind of bureaucrat that loses transit elections for us.

    Lose this demographic and when automotive autonomy makes it possible for jammed cars create more lives than moving cars kill, we’ll get huge public support for traffic jams themselves. Which in first nine months will result in hundreds of voters who correctly believe that good regional transit would’ve prevented their being born.

    Also think focus groups for both parties will agree that it’s time for a reformed seat-hog and a rabid warthog with a loud radio, to replace lithographed 19th century mascots that nobody even remembers what they meant. But bet the Arkansas GOP delegation has dibs on its choice already.

    Senator O’Ban, President Trump just sent you your new hat!


    Mark Dublin

  9. Martin, I’ve got long lifetime experience with not only being angry, but holding myself responsible for long ago events because at six, I hadn’t built a time machine fast enough.

    Also, watching bullies walk away carrying things that weren’t theirs, and not acting sorry at all. Agree, we’ve the right to act like we won. What’s our next move?


  10. Important thing being completely missed here. What’s enraging a lot of our enemies’ constituents is not just money itself, but the hundred percent correlation between average out-State workers’ own decades’ long impoverishment and Seattle’s gross (not just the accounting kind) agglomeration of wealth.

    Including these last three years’ compounding immobilization of I-5 and the rest of the area’s arterials. And every average income-earner’s increasing certainty of being evicted, priced, or property-taxed out of their year’ long homes. By fleeing millionaires who can now only afford to buy every residential property in Thurston County.

    So we could have a Taekwondo move that’d cause flowers to appear on Bruce Lee’s grave on Capitol Hill: Suddenly call a conference with State reps from Olympia, Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and Gray’s Harbor.

    And tell them that if we get our money, we’ll pay their voters’ car-tabs for as long as it takes for their every job-seeking skilled worker to build Sound Transit into Thurston. Sounder, electric rail preparations, diamond lanes, and all. And hint that if this goes well, same deal will be extended to our other enemies’ districts.

    But with firm demand in every case that land-use has to become transit-furry-cuddly-snuggly-purring-friendly. Your words tonight really sum it up, Martin. Through a lot of luck, but also hard work and good intentions, Seattle and the rest of the ST area really have won economic predominance in the region. As well as in the whole the State of Washington.

    And as every victor stays victorious by doing: Act like the whole State wins by cooperating with us. Because by the time it clears the tower at Sea-Tac, every jetliner window shows the same thing. Between the Cascades ridge-line and the Pacific coast, everything from Vancouver’s north city line to Portland’s south one is already one region.

    So let’s act like that, too,

    Mark Dublin

    1. They’re the ones who block attempts to deal with impoverishment, federal neglect, etc. If it hadn’t been for those Eyman initiatives there would have been more investment throughout the state to promote the economy, prevent inequality from leaving people behind, etc. The minimum wage would have risen years ago. And maybe doing something about improving transit, which was going along fine until the Eymanites and their new allies in Olympia suddenly slashed it.

  11. Puget Sound needs world class public transit.

    The issue I have, is Pierce county gets little to nothing out of ST3 – its not going to allow more people to use public transit to get into Seattle. As it is Link is a 45 minute trip from Seatac to downtown, I don’t see how this will help anyone along the Link extension south to Tacoma.

    What would help is better integration with Sounder timetables and Pierce Transit buses at Sounder stations, and/or more actual connector buses.

    1. A lot of people here in Pierce I’ve spoken to want the train for a link to SeaTac and Federal Way. Take that as you will.

  12. I suspect this bill will pass both the House and Senate and will end up cutting $2 Billion from ST3.

    1. “Sound Transit estimates a revenue loss of $780 million, but when you factor in the agency not being able to bond against lost revenue, Sound Transit says it’s looking at a $2.2 billion loss.”

      This is incredibly misleading. Sound Transit’s debt capacity is determined by the tax base of the district (1.5% limit with no voter approval, 5% limit with 60% voter approval). The potential loss in revenue from the MVET based portion obviously impacts the financial plan dramatically so it’s more a matter of cash flows and timing of long-term debt.

      From the October 2017 Financial Plan COP Briefing made before the board Dec 7, 2017:

      • Debt Capacity Driven by 3 Measures
      1. Net Coverage: 2.22x vs. 1.5x policy min
      2. Bond Covenants: 2.22x vs. Parity Bond. covenant of 1.5x
      3. Legal debt capacity: ~$2 billion of additional. debt [ed: the accompanying graphics show a much larger amount until around 2035…???]
      • Smaller if assessed property value growth declines
      • Higher if assessed property value grows faster than forecast
      • Legal debt limit key constraint under current

      I would encourage those who care about these financial matters to read the much delayed 2017 Annual Financial Plan. (Frankly, we should be talking about a 2018 plan by the fourth quarter annual budget cycle.)


  13. A promising sign: the reply I got from my email comment to Gael Tarleton’s office contained the following:

    . I want to make car tabs less expensive, but I will only support a bill that provides a replacement source of funding for Sound Transit.

    She doesn’t specify dollar for dollar, but still, good sign.

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