NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

NO on I‑1125 vote reaches 53% statewide

A week ago, I men­tioned here on The Advo­cate that I was asked at the NO on I‑1125 elec­tion night par­ty what I thought final spread on I‑1125 would be, and that my guess was that the no vote would even­tu­al­ly sur­pass 53%.

Today, with just under two weeks to go until the 2011 elec­tion is cer­ti­fied, that’s just what hap­pened. NO on I‑1125 man­aged to reach 53% of the vote in only a week thanks to the two fac­tors I cit­ed: the strong no vote in King Coun­ty and the weak yes vote in many east­ern Wash­ing­ton coun­ties.

On elec­tion night, the vote against I‑1125 in King Coun­ty stood at an impres­sive 60.37%. Over the course of a week, it has climbed three whole per­cent­age points, to 63.36%. And it’s still get­ting stronger!

At the same time, the vote for I‑1125 has been weak­en­ing. Adams and Spokane coun­ties joined the no col­umn a week ago, Pierce has con­tin­u­ous­ly been inch­ing clos­er to the point where its vot­ers will be even­ly split, and key swing coun­ties like What­com and Sno­homish have become more solid­ly NO.

In most east­ern Wash­ing­ton coun­ties (exclud­ing the three that are against I‑1125), the vote in favor is not par­tic­u­lar­ly lop­sided, as has been the case with past Eyman ini­tia­tives. For instance, in Fer­ry and Stevens coun­ties, which are among the most con­ser­v­a­tive places in Wash­ing­ton, I‑1125 is only receiv­ing 54% of the vote.

I‑1125’s defeat leaves Eyman zero for four in try­ing to rewrite state trans­porta­tion pol­i­cy. In 2000, he tried to con­vince vot­ers that it would be a good idea to forcibly require nine­ty per­cent of our trans­porta­tion bud­get to go to roads. The peo­ple said no. Eyman did­n’t lis­ten; in 2002, he attempt­ed to run a sim­i­lar ini­tia­tive to the Leg­is­la­ture but the effort ran out of gas (pun intend­ed) and Eyman did not sub­mit the nec­es­sary sig­na­tures to get it before the House and Sen­ate.

In 2008, Eyman pro­posed Ini­tia­tive 985, which, like I‑1125, con­tained tolling restric­tions. It also would have opened high occu­pan­cy vehi­cles to solo dri­vers dur­ing most hours of the day. Vot­ers resound­ing­ly reject­ed it.

Now I‑1125 has fit­ting­ly joined that pile of fail­ures.

Of course, that has­n’t stopped Eyman from try­ing to spin it as a suc­cess. In emails to his fol­low­ers, he’s been claim­ing that by forc­ing a vote on I‑1125, he’s made tolls “more radioac­tive”. In real­i­ty, he accom­plished just the oppo­site.

If any­thing, I‑1125 has made tolling a less con­tentious pol­i­cy direc­tion in Wash­ing­ton State… because it failed. In defeat­ing I‑1125, the vot­ers have put their stamp of approval on the Leg­is­la­ture’s plans to improve our high­ways.

Those plans do not, as we point­ed out dur­ing the cam­paign, call for a sud­den and imme­di­ate impo­si­tion of tolls every­where, on every state route or inter­state.

Rather, the shift to tolls as a major rev­enue source for projects will hap­pen grad­u­al­ly, on a facil­i­ty by facil­i­ty basis.

As we’ve repeat­ed­ly not­ed, only two facil­i­ties in Wash­ing­ton State are cur­rent­ly tolled: SR 16, which cross­es the Taco­ma Nar­rows and SR 167, home to the exper­i­men­tal HOT lanes project. Tolls have been autho­rized on a third facil­i­ty, the Ever­green Point Float­ing Bridge, but that’s it.

There’s been talk of tolling oth­er facil­i­ties as well, but talk is not the same as autho­riza­tion. Talk does­n’t even trans­late to intent… it just means dis­cus­sion.

And when the time does come for action, it will hap­pen with­in the leg­isla­tive process. That’s because sate law pro­hibits WSDOT or the Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion from impos­ing tolls where there are none now. Only the Leg­is­la­ture can autho­rize an expan­sion of tolling. So that list of tolled facil­i­ties isn’t going to get any longer until the Leg­is­la­ture votes to make it longer.

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One Comment

  1. Per­son­al­ly I think it’s about time to go on the offen­sive. Places like Fer­ry and Stevens coun­ties con­sis­tent­ly insist that we should not be able to pay for the infra­struc­ture we need. Maybe we should start ask­ing them to pay for their own.

    What would the effect be, if new con­struc­tion statewide had to pay its own way? Maybe those high­ways into these areas should be paid for by those who use them. I have no prob­lem with how they pay for them and I will not ask for the right to vote on their solu­tion as long as all of the mon­ey comes from those who use those roads.

    I don’t expect some­thing like this to pass but the threat should keep them active defend­ing their right to suck­le at the Puget Sound teat. Maybe they would even get the idea that sup­port­ing ini­tia­tives like Tim’s has a down­side.

    # by GMD :: November 20th, 2011 at 12:22 PM