First, these are my personal views after spending several hours doing other work to calm down after reading some hand-wringing over ST3. After reading the hand-wringing and hearing the gawdawful sissy excuse-making below from The Stranger, one must wonder if Seattle legislators have the right guts & glory to get ST3’s flag on the hill so voters can decide without a Drill Sergeant giving them discipline & focus:
In an April 1 meeting, Ric Ilgenfritz, Sound Transit’s Executive Director of Planning, Environment and Project Development, issued a warning to a group of a transit advocates: “If one person gets pissed off, this whole thing can crash.”
Well, here’s one person who’s already pissed off: Representative Reuven Carlyle, the Democrat whose district covers downtown Seattle, Queen Anne, Magnolia, and Ballard.
“I’m pretty sure that as much as we’re committed as a delegation and a region to being 110 percent supportive of Sound Transit, [ST3] didn’t come down from Mount Sinai written in stone,” Carlyle told me yesterday, his voice cracking at times with almost Biblical anger. “Just because they want it doesn’t, in and of itself, make it religiously pure.”
“They’re asking for taxing authority that comes out of our pocket,” Carlyle adds. “Of course they would like it. I would like ice cream as well.”
Carlyle’s beef with ST3 is that it relies, in part, on what he says is the state’s portion of property tax authority, which he believes the state needs in order to properly fund education. In other words, he fears we’re about to sacrifice education funding on the altar of improved mass transit.
Sound Transit has requested a property tax of up to 25 cents per $1,000 property value to fund ST3. “That $0.25 is ‘in the gap,'” Carlyle explains, “meaning it effectively uses the state’s portion of the property tax.”
. . .
“Reuven’s concerns are legitimate,” says Farrell (D-North Seattle), “and are something that are shared, as we’re trying to figure out the McCleary [education funding] issue.”
It’s up to the Seattle delegation to play hardball, she argues, against the Republicans, who are pitting transportation against education. “My constituents care about trains and they care about education,” she says. “In an ideal world, we’re not having these debates next to each other.”
Newsflash: Rep. Carlyle with much business experience (i.e. he can actually make a decision and I wish he’d have spoken up last year) might actually have a point and I would encourage you to read the whole article before passing judgement on his concerns. I’m sure in the next 24 hours oh… the Washington Policy Center Transportation Pundit that I’ve helpfully passed the link to, the Seattle Transit Blog main page, and G*d knows who else is going to pounce on this as an excuse to kill ST3.
Now our supposedly reliable ally Rep. Farrell who according to her bio is, “an attorney with a focus on mediation, and her past professional experience includes working as the Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition, an organization dedicated to expanding bus, rail, bicycle and pedestrian transportation options. Her biggest accomplishment – bringing together transit and road advocates in support of transportation initiatives that secured billions in transit funding – is also a top priority in Olympia” is seemingly about to drop out of the ST3 fight. Oh and smearing Republicans is a) really ignorant and b) a really quick way to get ST3 killed – we North by Northwesters are fighting hard just to save a basic bus inter-county connector route with bipartisan opposition both behind us and in front of us.
Hey Representative Farrell: It’s not Republicans who are pitting transportation against education and it’s a bipartisan Senate negotiating team who put on the table 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed value property tax increase for Sound Transit. It’s Sound Transit knowing voters might get nervous at using other taxation authority decided to request 25 cents per $1,000 of property value. Furthermore, I agree that;
Screwing around with ST3 risks scuttling its chances altogether, according to Transportation Choices Policy Director Andrew Austin. “The Sound Transit board asked for this suite of taxes for a reason,” he says, “and removing one of the three legs of this funding proposal could jeopardize ST3 both politically and financially.”
So Rep. Farrell, got anything to say for yourself? Personally, I hope you tonight get yourself in a quiet room, pull yourself together via mediation as I have, apologize to Republicans – especially the Republicans who’ve compromised to get ST3 this far & who’ve carried the torch for transit like me, and bounce back realizing ST3 is imperfect but one of the big things we need for Seattle, Paine Field and a few other under served areas. It’s beyond time to fall in, salute and get ready for one last gallant rush up Curtis Hill on the Yakima Firing Range in a somewhat cynical political version of “the King of the Hill” playground game to raise the ST3 flag like in another playground game called “Capture the Flag”. HOO-RAH and fall in!
Oh and you guys wanna fiddle with the tax code – put it to voters in 2016 as an initiative and maybe many if not most of us writing & reading at STB will vote for it :-). We just don’t have time for Tax Policy 101 at the 2 minute warning here. Just get ST3 on the ballot and learn next time, the appropriate time to speak up to fix a major project proposal is when the proposals are being drafted and put through committee – as I very much spoke up last year. Not when we’ve got to get a transportation package out of the State House, reconcile with the State Senate, then have the two chambers vote on reconciliation, then get the Governor’s signature and then off to the 2016 campaign – all within the next two weeks. A lot is riding on ST3 and that transportation package, please keep this in mind.
Again, these are my personal views. I’m rather strident in them not just because of the Paine Field angle – that I’m willing to compromise on, but because we need to replace Sounder North with something safer & better, we need a state transportation package, Snohomish County needs light rail at least to Lynnwood – preferably Everett, and I’m convinced we need Seattle to have east-west subways. We North by Northwesters also desperately, oh so desperately need congestion relief – and that’s mass transit where 1% of the vehicles take 25% of the commuters off of I-5!!!