On Tuesday, I promised I'd go over Kate Riley's excellent column in the Seattle Times
, and, unfortunately, I've been so busy, I haven't been able to write about it.
Until now.Here's how Riley got started:
Backers of Initiative 912 are attempting to perpetuate a fraud on Washington voters.
As dispatched from the campaign's mother ship, KVI-AM conservative talk radio, the story line goes that wild-eyed Seattle liberals will replace the viaduct with the Taj Mahal of tunnels — all on the gas tanks of hard-working reasonable people everywhere else.
Not true. While $2 billion of new gas-tax revenues is earmarked to help replace the viaduct — a major regional thoroughfare that might collapse in the next earthquake — it won't pay for the tunnel some city officials want. They will have to raise the extra money elsewhere.
The 912ers don't care. They fudge the details. They ignore the possibility the viaduct's catastrophic failure would have major economic repercussions statewide. The resulting congestion would stymie industry and stall goods headed for the Port of Seattle.
Don't let them fool you as they try to morph the state Department of Transportation, which has been bringing in nickel-tax projects on time and under budget, with everything that is wrong with Sound Transit and the Seattle Monorail Project.
We like it when columnists call out the anti-tax zealots on their propogandic, cynical nonsense.
This column delivers another well deserved smack to Carlson, Wilbur, Bader, and Co.
Riley also points out:
But the most damaging fudging is how 912 supporters obscure the truth of how interconnected the state transportation system is and how much taxpayers in the state's populous Puget Sound have been subsidizing transportation elsewhere.
Indeed. As I noted this morning: we've been showering them with a fountain of state money for years and they aren't even grateful. Many of them seem to think they're being ripped off, but they're really being subsidized.
Not all Eastern Washingtonians are stupid, though. There will be many who vote against Initiative 912. The question is how many east of the Cascades will see the light and reject gutting 274 public safety and congestion relief projects.
I was particularly amused by one conservative's
feeble online response to Riley:
MS. RILEY, IT'S TIME YOU - AND THOSE THAT THINK LIKE YOU - TO START SUPPORTING THE DRIVE TO MAKE EASTERN WASHINGTON IT'S OWN STATE. SINCE YOUR CROWD SEEMS TO THINK THE REST OF THE STATE LEECHES OFF SEATTLE (NOT TO MENTION TRYING USE I-912 TO KILL COMMUTERS WHO TRAVEL THE ROADS AND BRIDGES OF PUGET SOUND), THIS SHOULD BE A NO-BRAINER... AS BLOGGER SAGEBRUSH RECOMMENDS, PUGET SOUND SHOULD PART WAYS WITH REST OF THE STATE, LINK UP WITH B.C., AND CREATE THE TRANSPORTATION UTOPIA OF YOUR DREAMS...
So what you're saying is, you really have no answer for Kate Riley - all you have to say is that Eastern Washington should become its own state.
We think dividing the state is a silly idea that doesn't even merit serious consideration, but that's beside the point.
If Initiative 912 passes, state legislators will be confronted with the problem (again) of how to put back funding stripped out by an anti-tax initiative. And if they do manage to come up with a way to restore revenues, there will be limitations set on the revenues to keep them within the county they are raised.
Eastern Washington will suffer if that happens, but if a majority east of the mountains wants to vote yes on I-912, they'll just have to put up with the consequences. If they don't want the money, we'll keep it in the urban areas.
If Eastern Washington were to become its own state, it's doubtful it could succeed financially on its own. What kind of revenues would they collect over there to fund the operation of government?
Interstates like I-90 and I-83 would likely fall into disrepair because most Eastern Washingtonians would oppose paying taxes to keep them maintained and upgraded.
The transportation package passed by the Legislature benefits all of Washington State - not just Seattle and not just Puget Sound. It's a pity the anti-tax zealots can't see this. Or maybe they can, and they don't care - they think I-912 will be political payback for losing the gubernatorial election challenge.
Shooting yourself in the foot isn't considered revenge or payback by anyone with logic or sensibility, but anti-tax conservatives are not known for being people who are skilled at reasoning and sound decision making.Business leaders understand the problem
Washington's trade-dependent economy and challenging topography, which often increases highway construction costs, would warrant higher-than-average investment in transportation, [Washington Roundtable President Steve] Mullin said.
"We're not Iowa," he said. Mullin said employers need to get employees to work and their goods to market.
"It's pretty straightforward," he said.
But in addition, there's a "psychic impact" of underinvesting, he said.
"If we can't address problems as obvious as this one, it's hard to make the case that Washington can credibly argue to employers that we are going to be able to solve the other problems."
But again, the anti-taxers - in this case, Bret Bader - demonstrate they just don't know what they're talking about:
Initiative 912 sponsors say voters should repeal the new tax because state transportation priorities have not focused on congestion relief and are wasteful.
Washingtonians are paying too much in taxes at the pump, they say, and they are not getting enough value from those dollars.
Proponents still don't get it: the number one priority is PUBLIC SAFETY.
Congestion relief is important, but comes in second.
As for wasteful, that claim has already been debunked: the state is completing transportation projects on time and under budget.
Initiative 912 spokesman Bret Bader said he doesn't trust DOT statistics.
He said even if the statistics are accurate, the important question is not how much money the department spends but rather how efficiently it is spent.
Well, of course Bret doesn't trust DOT statistics. He does, however, put great stock in rhetoric that he and his fellow cohorts pull out of their asses.
The Department of Transportation is spending money efficiently, Bret. Sorry if you can't understand that. The specifics are probably a little too complicated for your simplistic "evil government is always wasteful" thinking.
"What good is sending $2 billion to the city of Seattle as a blank check?" said Bader, referring to money that would be spent replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
According to Bader: "The only way to make things better is to pass 912 and reform the Department of Transportation."
The Alaskan Way Viaduct money isn't a blank check. It's the state's contribution towards repairing one of the most vulnerable roadways in Washington.
Passing Initiative 912 will not reform the state Department of Transportation. The DOT doesn't need reform. It's the most heavily audited state agency there is. The DOT needs more money so it can better serve the citizens of Washington State.
As for those who consider voting yes on 912 a way to get payback for the gubernatorial election, the Governor's office says:
"It's unfortunate that some people want to play politics with Washington's economy and safety. For Chris Gregoire, this transportation package is not a political issue -- it's the key to sustaining and growing our economy, and it's vital to safety of all of Washington state," [spokeswoman Carol] Andrews said.
We agree. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. This package had bipartisan support in the Legislature. Unfortunately, the state Republican Party has decided to foolishly endorse I-912.
Proponents of Initiative 912 excel at the politics of division - and not just figurately. That talk about dividing the state? They really mean it. They actually think they'll be better off without the urban areas.
It's time people stopped listening to them, because they really don't know what they're talking about.