“Yeah, that’s great and all, but how are you going to pay for it?” Such is the buzz of a rhetorical torpedo which has sunk a thousand good ideas. The problem with this question isn’t its deeper truth—we live in a world of limited time and resources—but in how selectively it is deployed. Obstructionist deficit hawks fire it to block millions spent on transit and public health, yet silently allow policymakers to allocate trillions towards highways and war. It is not a question of whether we can undertake massive projects—especially in the state of Washington—but which to prioritize.
In contrast to my home state of Illinois, Washington shines as a beacon of fiscal stability: it consistently maintains healthy financial reserves, meticulously plans budgets according to comprehensive economic forecasts, and steadfastly controls its assumption of debts. These far-seeing practices have insulated the state from global economic instability, engendering confidence among bond holders and credit rating agencies alike. The state appears to consistently ask and thoroughly answer the question: “how are you going to pay for that?”
With wise frugality guiding the flow of money though Olympia, we can move on from asking “how are you going to pay for that,” to a deeper question: “why are you going to pay for that?” With increased wildfires threatening the state’s economy, the legislative mandate to address climate change, and the state having explicitly acknowledged transportation represents Washington’s largest source of emissions, how would a wise administration distribute funds?
Funding data below the fold:Continue reading “Transportation Project Spending: 2023-2029”