Tell state legislators votes to cut transit funding are unacceptable: We’re keeping the pressure on state legislators to either kill their car tab bill or come up with funding to backfill their cuts to Sound Transit’s budget. Democratic State Senators came up with some backfill albeit flawed, but the House stripped the backfill, which means the bill is likely headed to conference committee to hash out the differences. This is our chance to force the state legislature to either come up with real backfill or kill the bill entirely. A full list of state legislator emails is available here.
A brief history of car tab buffoonery: We’ve been tracking this issue closely. In 2015, Democrats compromised with Republicans by passing a $15 billion, unneeded highway expansion so that the Sound Transit 3 package (ST3) could get a chance to be on the ballot. ST3 was passed overwhelmingly. Shortly after approving the ballot measure, right-wing, anti-tax media stoked outrage about car tabs. Despite this, Democrats won a special election by a large margin, giving them control of the entire state government. Flash forward to today and state Democrats only have until March 8th to pass legislation. Despite this short timeframe, they’ve decided cutting car tab fees is their priority. These cuts will blow a huge $2 billion-plus-sized hole in transit funding. Rather than backfilling that hole with anything (a capital gains tax perhaps?), state Democrats decided to take money from education funding that could help homeless kids. The $518 million from the education fund sounds like a lot but since it’s a backloaded source that won’t come in until projects are constructed while car tab fees are frontloaded and collected now, it won’t help as much as it sounds.
As a side note, the state Democratic party’s allergy to new revenue sources appears to have also killed the carbon tax bill, which apparently is a few votes short but hasn’t been brought to a vote so we don’t know which Democrats caved. So in sum, Democratic power in the state legislature has meant a focus on cutting transit, no carbon tax and, as a cherry on top, a ridiculous attempt to hide their emails from public disclosure law. Washington State is home to the two richest people in the entire world and they pay zero state taxes on their income or capital gains. We should all be outraged. Sign our petition to keep ST3 whole here.
Attend TCC’s panel on transportation equity: Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC) is hosting their quarterly forum called Transit Talks on Tuesday, March 6th. They’ll be discussing transportation equity with a group of experts.
Attend The Urbanist Volunteer Orientation: We’re an all volunteer organization that’s trying to build the foundation of urbanist engagement. You can get involved with making your city even more awesome and we can help provide the tools to make you successful. Join us on Sunday, March 11th at 10am to learn about how to get plugged in.
Leave a comment on the Regional Open Space Plan: As the region grows it will become more challenging to preserve open space. The Puget Sound Regional Council is trying to plan ahead, so we preserve natural beauty before it’s lost. This is the region’s first attempt at planning for this and we covered it here. Make sure you get your comment in by March 8th.
Get your comments on on the MHA rezones: If you’ve spent any time reading The Urbanist you probably know the city is working on implementing mandatory housing affordability with rezones that increase density. We’ve written about it a lot and a summary of the final proposal can be found here. You can attend the public hearing for Districts 5 and 6 on March 12 or send in written comments.
Owen is a solutions engineer for a software company. He has an amateur interest in urban policy, focusing on housing. His primary mode is a bicycle but isn't ashamed of riding down the hill and taking the bus back up. Feel free to tweet at him: @pickovven.