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.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

King County voters turn down Proposition 1; Metro service remans in jeopardy

Well, the ini­tial batch of returns for the April 22nd spe­cial elec­tion just got report­ed by King Coun­ty Elec­tions, and they aren’t pret­ty. By a vote of 55% to 44%, vot­ers are reject­ing Propo­si­tion 1, the mea­sure unan­i­mous­ly referred to the bal­lot by the King Coun­ty Coun­cil to save Metro and fund bad­ly need­ed road repairs.

The ini­tial tal­ly report­ed by King Coun­ty Elec­tions con­sists of 162,508 votes for Propo­si­tion 1, and 200,887 votes against. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of bal­lots remain to be count­ed, and it is cer­tain­ly pos­si­ble that the mar­gin will tight­en. But it would take a huge turn­around in the late votes to change the out­come, and there just aren’t enough votes wait­ing to be count­ed to over­come the oppo­si­tion.

Propo­si­tion 1’s appar­ent fail­ure leaves over sev­en­ty of Metro’s routes on the chop­ping block, and leaves sev­er­al dozen more fac­ing dras­tic ser­vice cut­backs.

King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine, address­ing mem­bers of the Move King Coun­ty Now coali­tion at Kells Irish Pub and Restau­rant in Seat­tle, not­ed that the num­bers did not look good, but he vowed to con­tin­ue work­ing to pro­tect Metro, even as he pro­pos­es leg­is­la­tion to elim­i­nate routes and evis­cer­ate oth­ers.

“The vot­ers are not reject­ing Metro,” Con­stan­tine said. “They are reject­ing this par­tic­u­lar means of fund­ing Metro. We know the peo­ple of King Coun­ty love and val­ue their tran­sit ser­vice. They vote with their feet and with their ORCA cards.”

Propo­si­tion 1’s fail­ure will also leave the King Coun­ty Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s Road Ser­vices Divi­sion woe­ful­ly under­fund­ed. KCDOT’s shrink­ing bud­get has begun to take a seri­ous toll on road main­te­nance, par­tic­u­lar­ly in rur­al areas.

King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Lar­ry Phillips and Seat­tle May­or Ed Mur­ray, who spoke after Con­stan­tine, both stressed that they have been around long enough to know that the fail­ure of one par­tic­u­lar bal­lot mea­sure is hard­ly the end of the road.

They make a very good point.

In 2007, vot­ers in King Coun­ty over­whelm­ing­ly reject­ed the Roads & Tran­sit bal­lot mea­sure, which would have increased the sales tax and vehi­cle fees to pay for road projects and expan­sion of Sound Tran­sit’s Link light rail sys­tem.

But the fol­low­ing year, Sound Tran­sit went back to the bal­lot on its own. It resound­ing­ly won approval to extend light rail south, east, and north, towards Fed­er­al Way, Red­mond, and Lyn­nwood from the vot­ers of urban Puget Sound.

Going to the bal­lot in April was always risky, but King Coun­ty lead­ers, left emp­ty hand­ed after the Leg­is­la­ture failed to agree on a trans­porta­tion pack­age, con­clud­ed that the peo­ple of King Coun­ty deserved the oppor­tu­ni­ty to weigh in before cuts were imple­ment­ed… and so they referred to the bal­lot a plan to save Metro and fix coun­ty roads. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, those vot­ers who chose to par­tic­i­pate in the spe­cial elec­tion did­n’t like the plan. And so we’re back where we start­ed.

Any­one who believes that Metro’s pro­posed cuts are just a bluff, and vot­ed no think­ing that Metro will fig­ure out how to save routes from elim­i­na­tion with­out new rev­enue, is in for a very rude awak­en­ing.

Metro is actu­al­ly about to lose a lot of rev­enue… the $20 vehi­cle fee the King Coun­ty Coun­cil enact­ed in 2011 to stave off ser­vice cuts is about to expire. When it does, Metro will once again be dan­ger­ous­ly depen­dent on the volatile sales tax.

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5 Comments

  1. The prob­lem was the $60 car tabs. Metro needs to raise pas­sen­ger fares and remove dis­count­ed fares. Also, we need a spe­cial tax on major league licensed cloth­ing, shoes, and equip­ment.

    # by DD :: April 22nd, 2014 at 9:31 PM
    • Metro has already raised pas­sen­ger fares four times since the reces­sion hit in 2008.

      Have you not been pay­ing atten­tion?

      # by Andrew :: April 23rd, 2014 at 12:43 AM
  2. Promis­es, promis­es… Fed­er­al Way nev­er did get the light rail that they were promised and taxed for. The city sued Metro for fail­ing to deliv­er what was promised. A $60 tax on car tabs is ridicu­lous. If you ride the bus, kind­ly pay your own way and quit pan­han­dling us at the polls. Every­one knows that the bad roads will stay bad because the gov­ern­ment will spend the road repair mon­ey on some oth­er fool­ish project.

    # by Joseph :: April 23rd, 2014 at 2:08 AM
  3. Metro cuts are going to hurt com­muter dri­vers. Peo­ple tak­ing bus­es instead of dri­ving pri­vate cars keep traf­fic down on the roads.

    # by Kfhoz :: May 1st, 2014 at 7:42 AM
  4. We still need our bus ser­vice. King Coun­ty lead­ers need to come up with a new plan!

    # by Peter Vargas :: May 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 PM