Last Friday, the Seattle City Council Transportation committee met and passed an initial round of amendments to a proposed Transportation Benefits District (TBD) on to full council. The last amendment, to increase the funding from 0.1% to 0.2% sales tax, was proposed by CM Tammy Morales and eventually withdrawn so that council could have more time to consider and get feedback from their constituents.
Though we agree with the concerns voiced in council that adding a regressive sales tax is not ideal, the proposed plan would cut TBD service funding by 75%: a far more regressive outcome. This funding is needed to maintain bus service that an increasing number of Seattlites will depend on just as we try to recover from a recession that is hitting people with lower incomes the hardest.
This change means replacing the $60 Vehicle Licensing Fee (VLF) from 2014’s TBD with a 0.1% sales tax, which will still represent a tax cut for households with lower incomes who own a car. A household would have to spend $60,000, not including rent or groceries, to match the VLF for one car. For lower income households that already fully rely on transit, cutting service could be devastating.
Full council is meeting next Monday, 7/27, to finalize the package that will appear on the ballot. Please join us in letting the City Council and The Mayor know that you support the full .2% TBD and emergency funding for transit next year using this quick form.
12 Replies to “Action Alert: Tell Council to Save Transit Funding”
MY WAR ON REGRESSIVITY
Leaving my decades-long home in Ballard was not my idea. The speculator who bought our complex laughed at my neighbors and me when we offered to join together and buy it from him.
Before the pandemic made travel unwise, I frequently made use of four transit systems, our own Intercity Transit, Sound Transit Express, Link, and the KC Metro Transit Route 44 which together gave me transit to Seattle literally from my door.
I would like to keep on patronizing Columbia City’s Empire Cafe, Beacon Hill’s Station Cafe, Pioneer Square’s Zeitgeist Cafe. The Seattle Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum, and Ballard’s National Nordic Museum. And also more than one department store.
In one sentence, ’til the virus hit, easy transit access to Seattle via Tacoma was the best thing about living in Olympia. Which to be fair is also a wonderful place to live. Wish I could do more, but staying active to bring Olympia into the same regional transit system as everything in Sound Transit is best I can do for Seattle right now.
If it’s all I can do, ready and willing to pay higher State “Car Tabs” to see to it Seattle isn’t lost to me. Because what’s absolutely most regressive about my every mile of travel is what jammed traffic makes my car cost me.
(I’m taking Seattle Subway’s word it’s on its way. STB, Thanks for the opportunity.)
By half-past noon, hope somebody in Seattle’s transit electorate has at least signed on to today’s effort by Seattle Subway. Which there’s no reason cannot include a knockout of a 21st century drawbridge to provide a wonder finish to every passenger’s ride to Ballard.
But Joe, your flickr list provides precisely the equipment purchase reference that could forever rescue and redeem our DSTT effort from those years of Breda-created Hell. Since the A-10 can get a wing shot off and keep flying, Seattle’s every subsequent railcar electric railcar bid should award Fairchild Republic the contract like the century’s shiniest Oscar.
However, while ‘Subways will never do better than Bettina as its public Face, they might want to get with her base chief to remind her to show up at events in her train-driver’s uniform. Keep the voters’ attention on the qualities that great aircraft and great subways share in common.
While you all fill out your form as requested.
THANK YOU Seattle Subway for this call to action on a Monday. Also many thanks for using my photo.
We are in this together. The Seattle STBD must prevail.
I also move we place CM Strauss’ bus lanes named after transit heroes as a key part of this package. We need a network of bus lanes to ensure buses can move in a reliable fashion, and not be held up in the congestion to come. We also need to honour our heroes… like the one who put stopping Tim Eyman ahead of her own ambitions.
I already stumbled upon a comment on the Urabnist from someone mistakenly thinking the city considering doubling the entire sales tax from 10% to 20%. Hopefully, this misconception is not widespread. The reality is 10.1% vs. 10.2%, not 10% vs. 20%.
Were they for or against the 20% sales tax? :=)
Seriously, don’t give Kshama Sawant any ideas!
A 75% cut seems a bit drastic. I originally thought a 25% cut would be about right, but given the current situation, maybe a 50% cut would be more appropriate. And you could always add service back later if demand recovered.
Only if there is sufficient funding. Seattle does not have a Federal Reserve printing press.
That’s the point of the post.
The Fed doesn’t really have a “printing press” to create money out of thin air (well, they sort of do but that devalues the existing currency). We have a national debt that is real. And China holds a large portion of that debt. Currently the $ is the global standard but if markets lose faith we are in real danger of higher interest rates. If we default on the debt then it’s great depression x2.
There is no “free money”.
The Fed doesn’t really have a “printing press” to create money out of thin air (well, they sort of do but that devalues the existing currency).
That is Tom’s point. Seattle can’t easily run a debt. Nor can we devalue our currency. In contrast, the federal government can do both. They were doing both before the pandemic hit, and have done both a lot since. Here is a graph of the federal debt: https://www.pgpf.org/sites/default/files/how-much-is-the-national-debt-what-are-the-different-measures-chart-1.jpg. Here is a graph of the money supply: https://specials-images.forbesimg.com/imageserve/5ef6203465f80c0006342c62/960×0.jpg?fit=scale
Currently the $ is the global standard but if markets lose faith we are in real danger of higher interest rates. If we default on the debt then it’s great depression x2.
Sorry, you are confused (although you were right about devaluing the currency). Increasing the money supply devalues the currency. That is the point. The Fed is trying to avoid deflation. They have been doing that since December 2019 in rather creative ways. That has continued, of course. They did the same thing 2008 as well. This is a good rundown of what has been happening (although I don’t agree with the analysis): https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2020/03/12/43131809/americans-need-to-know-that-the-15-trillion-the-public-just-handed-to-banks-is-actually-old-news. The main reason the Fed is doing all this is to avoid deflation, which can cause a depression.
An overly large money supply creates the opposite — inflation. Inflation leads to a loss of wealth. That thousand dollars in the bank can’t buy as much anymore. But it leads to more jobs and more employment. That is the problem with excessive debt and cheap currency.
When inflation becomes too much of a problem, the Federal Reserve reduces the money supply. It typically does this by increasing the cost to borrow money. That means large banks have to pay more interest to borrow. This in turn means that the banks increase interest rates. This cools the economy, and inflation goes down.
Right now, we are on the edge of a depression, which is why the government is spending a bunch of money, and the Federal Reserve is (figuratively) printing a bunch of money. This the right approach to avoid worsening economic problems, and more suffering. Unfortunately, the economy won’t recover until the pandemic is handled.
There are similarities with the 1970s. Inflation was caused by debt, but also by resource inflation (on oil). This meant that tightening the economy didn’t reduce inflation as much as expected, and we had “stagflation”, a combination of high unemployment and high inflation. Likewise, the economy would probably be rebounding right now, if not for the pandemic. The usual economic measures (increase debt during bad times) won’t work that well, just like the usual remedy to deal with inflation (reduce debt and raise interest rates during inflationary times) didn’t work too well in the 1970s.
That being said, the government (at least the House) and the Fed are on the right path. We need to massively increase our debt, on the expectation that fairly soon (within a year) the pandemic will be handled, and people will get back to work. Eventually inflation could be a problem, but then we could always reduce the debt by aggressively taxing very wealthy people (something we haven’t done since the early 60s). Even with that, it is likely there will be some inflation, and some loss of wealth (across the board). Seeing as very few Americans are actually wealthy, I don’t really care. If you own your house (outright) then it isn’t worth as much as it was in the past. Big deal. Overall inflation can actually be a good thing for those who are in debt (e. g. have a mortgage or student loans).
Anyway, that is way off topic. Seattle can’t print our own currency or easily run a debt. (I say easily, since of course they can have bonds. Then there are unfunded liabilities, like pensions, but that is another topic).
The rest of the world has been begging the US for ten years to borrow more money. Interest rates on federal bonds have been extremely low, the dollar is strong, and there has been no sign of inflation reaching the 2% target for more than a few months. What other country is a safer investment? The Euro has been volatile, and has negative interest rates in Germany, Britain is in turmoil over Brexit, Japan’s economy has been weak for decades, China’s numbers are probably falsified, and Brazil isn’t doing too well either. There’s a gigantic amount of investable money that has to go somewhere.
The world would applaud if the US increased the deficit short-term to pay for a robust coronavirus response and to fix our backlog of infrastructure. That would make the US a more resilient country, which would make it a lower-risk investment. And it’s the minimum most other industrialized countries have done. Countries that are a large part of the US debtholders.
And we need to stop with the banana-public politics: it scares investors. Responsible leaders don’t threaten to intentionally default on tbe debt, or act like authoritarians, or talk about not complying with the election results, or break treaties with our democratic allies while cozying up to dictators, or let thousands of people die in a preventable pandemic, or let thousands more become homeless and/or lose their health insurance in a pandemic-related recession.
Much of the debt would disappear if President Biden reverses the 2017 tax cuts, as happened under Clinton and Obama.
One wildcard is the coronavirus, which is unlike any threat we’ve faced in a century, and our national response has been worse than anything since longer than that. If we don’t get a robust virus-reducing response and New Deal-like help for people and local governments soon, we could have a catastrophe worse and longer-lasting than the Great Depression. That would spike the debt and make investors extremely worried about investing in the US. That could accelerate a move to switch to another reserve currency, perhaps a joint Euro/Pound/Yen thingy, even if those countries continue to have their same level of problems.
Metro’s budget has to match its revenue of course. But its revenue is not at some “natural” level. It’s at a level based on arbitrary political decisions by the state, county, cities, and voters. Nobody sat down in 1990 and said, “This is the best financial model for Metro in 2020.” it was the accumulation of piecemeal decisions.
Bernie, who ever said there WAS such a thing as “Free Money”…..except for banking industry apologists complaining about Federal money going to anybody except the very bankers whose greed and dishonesty destroyed their own industry leading up to 2008?
This country’s problem is not lack of money, but the fact that most if it is in the hands of a very few people. And also, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and some unimpoverished airline executives decided they couldn’t afford to check boarding passengers for box-cutters on 9/11….where’d the war money come from those times?
A responsibly-run corporation suffers a major setback, especially something non-preventable like an earthquake. Or maybe a worldwide pandemic. Are you going to call its management irresponsible for borrowing the repair money they know the repairs will restore to them with interest?
Suppose that instead of the Federal Government sending another round of “Bailout” checks, recipients are instead hired and trained to ride transit in uniform, counselling passengers who need it on the importance of wearing masks? Or to drive trains, so headways can be 15 minutes instead of half an hour?
Are you saying passengers’ improved ability to get and keep a job won’t enable them to EARN enough money to PAY for both their ride and a lot of other things? Or like the loser of the 2016 Presidential election and his “Base” (Lord, what an appropriate word!) is your problem with freedom?
Except the freedom to deprive somebody poorer and weaker than you of theirs.
And, Mark, however awful the news from Portland, letting yourself get driven off-topic on a matter this important is something YOU really can’t afford. Stick to things like asking for observations and suggestions from operating personnel as to what they’re seeing that could be done cheaper by virtue of being done better.
A formal advisory role for ATU Local 587 might not only reimburse the wages of the members who are “detailed” to it, but also really economize on the consulting budget. Every hour on-shift, drivers, supervisors, mechanics, and communications people see things first-hand that the consulting’s best just can’t imagine.
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