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, September 4th, 2019

City of Everett approves resolution opposing Tim Eyman’s destructive I‑976

With Labor Day behind us and most K‑12 schools in Wash­ing­ton State back in ses­sion, signs of fall are all around us. Sum­mer is almost over.

We are now less than six­ty days away from the 2019 Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion, which will take place mid­way through the autumn sea­son.

This year’s gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot won’t look like those of years past. The front will be utter­ly dom­i­nat­ed by Tim Eyman mea­sures: one Eyman ini­tia­tive, one ref­er­en­dum to rein­state an Eyman ini­tia­tive, and twelve Eyman push polls (“advi­so­ry votes”.) We call it the “Eymal­lot” for this rea­son.

The Eyman ini­tia­tive, I‑976, is eas­i­ly the most destruc­tive of the bunch. It would wipe out $4.2 bil­lion in bipar­ti­san, vot­er-approved trans­porta­tion invest­ments over the next six yeas, accord­ing to the Office of Finan­cial Man­age­ment.

Trans­porta­tion fund­ing in Wash­ing­ton at every lev­el would be reduced: state, region­al, and local. At the state lev­el, the mul­ti­modal account would be gut­ted, jeop­ar­diz­ing the future of Amtrak Cas­cades inter­ci­ty rail ser­vice.

The freight mobil­i­ty account would get wiped out, too, hurt­ing projects that would help farm­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers get their goods to mar­ket.

At the region­al lev­el, Sound Tran­sit would lose bil­lions in rev­enue, which would neg­a­tive­ly impact the agen­cy’s abil­i­ty to bor­row mon­ey to com­plete vot­er-approved light rail, com­muter rail, and bus expan­sion projects. Sound Tran­sit esti­mates I‑976 could cost tax­pay­ers as much as $20 bil­lion.

And then there’s the local lev­el.

Trans­porta­tion ben­e­fit dis­trict fund­ing relied upon by cities across Wash­ing­ton would be slashed too — from Washou­gal in south­west Wash­ing­ton’s Clark Coun­ty along the beau­ti­ful Colum­bia Riv­er Gorge, to Elmer City locat­ed upstream of the Grand Coulee Dam just beside the Colville Reser­va­tion.

I‑976 accom­plish­es all this dev­as­ta­tion by repeal­ing vehi­cle fees that were either pre­vi­ous­ly approved by vot­ers or by the elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives vot­ers elect­ed.

The six­ty-two Wash­ing­ton cities that depend on vehi­cle fee rev­enue to fix pot­holes, widen roads, and repair bridges are grave­ly con­cerned — as they should be.

We do not want to see anoth­er crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture fail­ure like the 2013 Skag­it Riv­er Bridge col­lapse on I‑5 between Mount Ver­non and Burling­ton.

Thank­ful­ly, city coun­cils through­out the state are begin­ning to take note of I‑976’s destruc­tive poten­tial — from Van­cou­ver to Bain­bridge Island.

Tonight, Everett’s City Coun­cil adopt­ed a res­o­lu­tion offi­cial­ly oppos­ing Eyman’s I‑976, offi­cial­ly putting Wash­ing­ton’s sev­enth largest city on the record against the mea­sure. Everett is among the cities that would lose big if I‑976 goes into effect.

Moments before the res­o­lu­tion’s pas­sage, Coun­cilmem­ber Scott Mur­phy summed up his oppo­si­tion to I‑976 by stat­ing: “I‑976 takes a sledge­ham­mer and tries to solve a very spe­cif­ic prob­lem. What this issue real­ly needs is a scalpel.”

“It would be real­ly dev­as­tat­ing to our own eco­nom­ic agen­da,” added Coun­cilmem­ber Bren­da Stoneci­pher.

The coun­cil’s res­o­lu­tion men­tioned cuts to high­way patrol fund­ing, the State Mul­ti­modal Account, and Region­al Mobil­i­ty Grants as seri­ous con­cerns.

You can see the full res­o­lu­tion below.

A Res­o­lu­tion Oppos­ing Wash­ing­ton State Ini­tia­tive 976

WHEREAS the City of Everett strives to main­tain and con­tin­u­ous­ly improve its trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture for the ben­e­fit of its res­i­dents and employ­ers; and

WHEREAS the City has long been com­mit­ted to keep­ing its streets in top con­di­tion through a robust street over­lay pro­gram; and

WHEREAS Everett res­i­dents have made a long-term invest­ment in Sound Tran­sit, includ­ing the deliv­ery of light rail to Everett, which will pro­vide fast, con­ve­nient, and reli­able tran­sit for Everett res­i­dents and work­ers to points through­out the Puget Sound region; and

WHEREAS the City Coun­cil and May­or rec­og­nize that Ini­tia­tive 976 would have extreme­ly neg­a­tive impacts on City, Coun­ty and State trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture, includ­ing the loss of Everett’s Trans­porta­tion Ben­e­fit Dis­trict, which typ­i­cal­ly pro­vides more than half of the City’s $3 mil­lion annu­al street over­lay bud­get; and

WHEREAS Sound Tran­sit would lose approx­i­mate­ly $7 bil­lion for Sound Tran­sit 3 projects if I‑976 were to pass, which would put deliv­ery of light rail to Everett at extreme­ly grave risk; and

WHEREAS pas­sage of I‑976 would result in a near­ly $2 bil­lion loss of six years in State trans­porta­tion fund­ing for high­ways, the Wash­ing­ton State Patrol and oth­er crit­i­cal invest­ments, impact­ing Sno­homish Coun­ty and every cor­ner of the state; and

WHEREAS I‑976 would strip more than $1.4 bil­lion over six years from the State’s Mul­ti­modal Account, from which the City of Everett has received approx­i­mate­ly $13.3 mil­lion over the past 15 years for projects includ­ing the 41st Street Over­cross­ing, I‑5/41st Street Ramp, East Marine View Dri­ve improve­ments and the 41st Street Freight Cor­ri­dor; and

WHEREAS I‑976 would jeop­ar­dize $100 mil­lion in bien­ni­al fund­ing for State Region­al Mobil­i­ty Grants, which Everett Tran­sit has used to help pur­chase elec­tric bus­es and add Park & Ride stalls at Everett Sta­tion, and which also help fund side­walks, bike infra­struc­ture, Safe Routes to School projects and projects that ben­e­fit seniors and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties,

NOW, THEREFORE, THE EVERETT CITY COUNCIL DOES RESOLVE:

The City Coun­cil con­firm its oppo­si­tion to Ini­tia­tive 976, which will be on the statewide bal­lot in Novem­ber 2019, as it would cause extreme harm to the devel­op­ment and main­te­nance of our trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture, there­by jeop­ar­diz­ing eco­nom­ic growth and qual­i­ty of life in Everett and through­out the region.

Passed and approved this 4th day of Sep­tem­ber 2019.

The Eco­nom­ic Alliance of Sno­homish Coun­ty, Sno­homish Coun­ty’s coun­ty­wide cham­ber of com­merce rep­re­sent­ing over four hun­dred enti­ties, is a mem­ber of the NO on I‑976 coali­tion (of which NPI is also a mem­ber) work­ing to defeat I‑976. Erik Ash­lie-Vinke, rep­re­sent­ing the EASC, made com­ments at the City Coun­cil meet­ing, mak­ing the point that TBDs con­tribute vital­ly to all sorts of pro­grams, from Safe Routes to Schools to pot­hole repair.

The Wash­ing­ton and North­ern Ida­ho Dis­trict Coun­cil of Labor­ers, through Bil­ly Wal­lace, also made a com­ment at the meet­ing.

Wal­lace empha­sized that there are appren­tices going through train­ing pro­grams that pos­si­bly will retire on the projects that ST3 funds, all the while mak­ing a sol­id fam­i­ly wage and build­ing an equi­table pen­sion to a respectable retire­ment.

For the gen­er­al pub­lic, Wal­lace not­ed it will also “take care of get­ting peo­ple home in time so that they can spend more time with their fam­i­ly.”

(Everett’s traf­fic, inci­den­tal­ly, was rat­ed worst in the nation in 2018.)

Wal­lace empha­sized we have to do what we can to get as much capac­i­ty as pos­si­ble out of the infra­struc­ture we can build, which is tran­sit.

A few more notes from the res­o­lu­tion about Everett in par­tic­u­lar:

  • Everett is one of the largest cities in the state with a Trans­porta­tion Ben­e­fit Dis­trict, which levies a vehi­cle fee as part of the $1,526,992 the TBD col­lect­ed in rev­enue in 2017 — over half of the City’s road­work bud­get, says the res­o­lu­tion. Road­work on Bev­er­ly Blvd, Sea­way Blvd, Col­by Ave, and Marine View Dr were all con­duct­ed par­tial­ly using TBD fund­ing in 2017. You can see the good work the TBD’s funds were used for in 2017 through this link. Addi­tion­al­ly, eleven out of the six­ty-two total com­mu­ni­ties in Sno­homish Coun­ty use TBDs for road main­te­nance.
  • When Link light rail reach­es Lyn­nwood in 2024, Sno­homish Coun­ty will be con­nect­ed to the net­work for the first time. Fur­ther exten­sion to Everett by 2036 was approved through ST3 but will be jeop­ar­dized by I‑976. Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Scott Bad­er made it clear: the region’s elect­ed lead­ers have made a com­mit­ment to vot­ers to deliv­er high-qual­i­ty tran­sit through­out the Puget Sound and they must deliv­er.

We can­not afford Tim Eyman’s I‑976. Learn more about the impacts before your bal­lot shows up by vis­it­ing the Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling coali­tion web­site.

Then vote NO on I‑976 by Novem­ber 5th, 2019.

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One Comment

  1. Eyman’s destruc­tive Ini­tia­tive 976 is just anoth­er exam­ple of Trumpian eco­nom­ic poli­cies that want to take us back to the last cen­tu­ry. Vote NO on I‑976 this Novem­ber. We need to con­tin­ue fund­ing for trans­porta­tion projects across the state that would end if I‑976 pass­es.
    Thank you for post­ing on this mea­sure and help­ing to inform vot­ers of its destruc­tive impacts to trans­porta­tion projects across the state.

    # by Steve Zemke :: September 18th, 2019 at 2:55 PM