Seattle voters couldn’t be more clear: They demand better transit and they are willing to fund it. Tim Eyman’s I-976 was demolished in Seattle, losing by over 3-1. This follows huge victories in Seattle for transit in 2014 (Seattle TBD), 2015 (Move Seattle), and 2016 (ST3.)
Despite repeated and very clear messages from Seattle voters, Washington State dedicates virtually zero funding to transit. Worse, the State doesn’t properly enable us to fund our own transit.
Since ST3 passed in 2016, most of the debate in the state legislature has centered on various schemes to cut MVET funding, when it should have been centered on finding better ways to fund transit. Voters in the Sound Transit district proved that by voting no on 976 by nearly the same margin they voted yes on ST3 in 2016. That result was in spite of an off year election which meant low turnout which typically trends conservative in most of the district.
Transportation is by far the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Washington State. The rapidly worsening climate crisis demands immediate action. It’s critical that the State legislature act now to put in place a progressive and long-term funding source, such as capital gains or a carbon tax, for sustainable transit. The legislature has the power to make the legal battle over I-976 irrelevant. We don’t have to risk the transit people rely on every day and a critical part of our response to the climate crisis on the outcome of a single court case.
The coming post-2020 census districting changes will make Washington districts more urban. Nearly half of all King County growth occurred in Seattle since 2010. We’re hopeful that coming changes to districts will signal to the legislature that they should pay more attention to urban votes.
In case your repeated votes weren’t enough to get the message through, please join us by contacting your legislators directly and telling them that we need progressive funding for transit both now and for the future.
The State Legislature as a whole cannot act without the support of Seattle legislators. It’s time for Seattle legislators to make directly funding transit a top priority. It’s a rare chance to do the right thing and an incredibly popular thing at the same time.
This article was written by Seattle Subway.