NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Keep Washington Rolling launches final NO on I‑1125 television ad, starring State Treasurer

Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling, the broad coali­tion fight­ing to defeat Tim Eyman’s Ini­tia­tive 1125, has launched its final tele­vi­sion ad of the cam­paign, with Elec­tion Day only a few hun­dred hours away.

The spot, titled “Too Cost­ly”, stars State Trea­sur­er Jim McIn­tire, who ably sum­ma­rizes the con­se­quences of Tim Eyman’s lat­est scheme.

“As State Trea­sur­er, I rarely take posi­tions on ini­tia­tives,” McIn­tire says as the ad opens. “But Tim Eyman’s Ini­tia­tive 1125 is just too cost­ly to ignore.”

He goes on to explain: “1125 would wipe out more than half a bil­lion dol­lars from cur­rent trans­porta­tion projects. Or, 1125 would lead to mil­lions more in high­er costs on future safe­ty and con­ges­tion projects — forc­ing us to choose either can­cel­ing crit­i­cal projects or high­er tax­es to make up the gap.”

He con­cludes: “That’s a bad deal for Wash­ing­ton. NO on 1125.”

We whole­heart­ed­ly agree. Wash­ing­ton just can’t afford any more of Tim Eyman’s destruc­tive, cyn­i­cal, ill-con­ceived ini­tia­tives. 1125 is so harm­ful and so poor­ly writ­ten that even many of the cor­po­ra­tions that self­ish­ly backed Eyman’s 1053 last year have donat­ed mon­ey to help run ads against 1125 this year. (Those cor­po­ra­tions include Bank of Amer­i­ca, Wey­er­haeuser, Alas­ka Air­lines, and many others).

We already know that the gas tax isn’t going to bring in the mon­ey we need  in the future to take care of our roads and bridges. That’s why we need tolls.

Gas tax rev­enues are already falling and will con­tin­ue to fall as elec­tric cars become more com­mon and inter­nal com­bus­tion engines become more effi­cient. Peo­ple are also final­ly get­ting smarter about com­bin­ing trips, in part because they want to avoid traf­fic, which can be espe­cial­ly awful dur­ing rush hour.

Ford just announced that it will begin sell­ing the new all-elec­tric ver­sion of its Focus hatch­back in the Seat­tle area, fol­low­ing in the tire tracks of Nis­san, which  began sell­ing the all-elec­tric Leaf last year. Vehi­cles like the Focus and the Leaf don’t run on gas, so their own­ers are nev­er going to fill them up at a gas sta­tion, which means they won’t be pay­ing gas tax­es on the trips they take in those vehicles.

While tolls will grad­u­al­ly begin to replace the gas tax in the years ahead, there isn’t going to be any kind of sweep­ing, overnight change. Tim Eyman makes it sound like the Leg­is­la­ture is going to turn every high­way into a turn­pike unless 1125 is passed. But that’s not the case. For the time being, tolls are only planned or being col­lect­ed in cor­ri­dors where gas tax rev­enue isn’t suf­fi­cient to build a major project, like the Taco­ma Nar­rows Bridge or Ever­green Point Float­ing Bridge.

Tolls are a sen­si­ble way to help fund high­way projects. Peo­ple pay for what they use. Hav­ing a toll reminds us all that infra­struc­ture costs mon­ey. It isn’t free. We at NPI have always dis­liked the term free­way, because it sub­con­scious­ly sug­gests that dri­ving and auto­mo­bile use are free. In real­i­ty, roads cost mon­ey. If we want safe, well-main­tained roads and bridges, we have to pay some­how. Tolls don’t have to pro­vide one hun­dred per­cent of the rev­enue, but they have to be in the mix.

Inci­den­tal­ly, this is the way it works with tran­sit and fer­ries now. Tran­sit rid­ers pay a fare when­ev­er they step aboard a bus or a train (with the cur­rent excep­tion of Seat­tle’s free ride area, which is going away). And of course any­one who dri­ves, walks, or bikes onto a fer­ry has to pay the fare for the crossing.

Roads should­n’t be any different.

It’s evi­dent that Tim Eyman real­ly dis­likes the idea of hav­ing to pay a toll to use a high­way. Per­haps he also dis­likes tolls because tolling has the poten­tial to under­mine his basic mes­sage about government.

Eyman does not talk about pub­lic pol­i­cy in terms of the trade­offs. He prefers to talk about only the rev­enue side of the equa­tion, which is decep­tive, because such a one-sided dis­cus­sion masks the con­se­quences of adopt­ing his ini­tia­tives. Eyman’s ini­tia­tives are all built on the false premise that we can have some­thing for nothing.

Eyman is fond of claim­ing that the sky did­n’t fall after two of his ear­ly tax-cut­ting ini­tia­tives (I‑695 and I‑747) were adopt­ed. But actu­al­ly, those ini­tia­tives have been just as harm­ful to our well-being as Eyman’s oppo­si­tion pre­dict­ed they would be. We sim­ply did­n’t feel the effects all at once due to backfilling.

But the days of back­fill­ing are over.

WSDOT recent­ly announced that con­struc­tion was begin­ning on a new one hun­dred and forty-four car fer­ry, which will replace the fifty-five year old boat M.V. Ever­green State. The new fer­ry will be built by Vig­or Ship­yards in Seat­tle (for­mer­ly Todd Pacif­ic). The news release point­ed out that the state actu­al­ly has a con­tract with Vig­or for three boats, but it only has the mon­ey to build one.

This is a con­se­quence of I‑695. If we still had the statewide motor vehi­cle excise tax, we’d be able to afford those oth­er boats. We’d also prob­a­bly have the mon­ey to fix some of our aging ter­mi­nals, which are falling apart. But we don’t.

Wash­ing­ton is suf­fer­ing now because of Tim Eyman ini­tia­tives that are more than a decade old. At this moment, we have the pow­er to say NO to anoth­er extreme­ly dan­ger­ous Tim Eyman ini­tia­tive. Let’s put the kibosh on this scheme to stop light rail and wreck our abil­i­ty to fund bad­ly need­ed road projects.

Vote NO on I‑1125.

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  1. Let’s stop giv­ing state tax­es col­lect­ed from gaso­line on Indi­an reser­va­tions to the Indi­ans and keep them in the State cof­fer. Then we can vote no on this.

    # by Marie Dansan :: November 6th, 2011 at 8:47 PM
    • Marie, maybe you’re not aware of this, but the Indi­an tribes are sov­er­eign nations. The tribes are under no oblig­a­tion to pay state tax­es on the fuel they buy, or col­lect tax­es on the fuel they sell. That is why we have agree­ments with them.

      Here is a descrip­tion of the agree­ments, pro­vid­ed by the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office to the Supreme Court in Auto­mo­tive Unit­ed Trades Orga­ni­za­tion v. State of Wash­ing­ton, a case about the legal­i­ty of the agree­ments which is cur­rent­ly before the Supreme Court:

      Most of the Agre­me­ments pro­vide that the State will refund to the tribe 75 per­cent of the state fuel tax­es on each gal­lon of fuel pur­chased by the tribes or trib­al retail­ers. In exchange, the Agree­ments require the tribes to: (1) pur­chase fuel only from enti­ties licensed by the State; (2) pur­chase only fuel on which state tax­es have been paid; (3) pass the state fuel tax­es onto retail cus­tomers in the price of fuel sold by the tribes; (4) arrange an annu­al audit demon­strat­ing com­pli­ance with the agreed pro­vi­sions; and (5) abide by cer­tain record-keep­ing agree­ments to ensure com­pli­ance with the terms of the Agree­ments. As not­ed in the 2009 Trib­al Fuel Tax Agree­ment Report, the tribes spent the fuel tax funds on road con­struc­tion and main­te­nance, sig­nal and traf­fic con­trol, trans­porta­tion plan­ning, and police and pub­lic safe­ty services.

      So, as you can see, we get some­thing in return for refund­ing three fourths of the gas tax­es col­lect­ed at trib­al gas sta­tions to the tribes.

      # by Andrew :: November 6th, 2011 at 9:23 PM

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  1. […] Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling launch­es final NO on I‑1125 tele­vi­sion ad, star­ring State Treasurer […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for November 4th, 2011 :: November 4th, 2011 at 9:52 AM
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