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 18th, 2019

NO on Tim Eyman’s I-976 kicks off campaign home stretch in Spokane, Vancouver, Seattle

Here at NPI, we have been long warning of the threat poised by Tim Eyman’s latest destructive initiative, I-976. With I-976 set to appear on ballots in just a few weeks, the effort to defeat it is switching into high gear.

I-976 puts at risk billions in critical transportation funding ($4.2 billion over six years, according to OFM), including municipal road maintenance, voter-approved Sound Transit system expansion projects, and services relied upon by veterans, children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities.

This week, the coalition working to defeat Initiative 976 kicked off the autumn homestretch of the campaign across Washington.

This is a statewide initiative, and appropriately, Keep Washington Rolling/NO on Tim Eyman’s I-976 is running a statewide campaign.

Kickoff week began with an event in Spokane, continued yesterday with an event in Vancouver, and rolled on today with an event in Seattle, the Emerald City.

In attendance at this morning’s third and final kickoff event was Mayor Jenny Durkan, President of Washington Roundtable Steve Mullin, Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council, Anna Zivarts, Director of Rooted in Rights, and Alex Hudson, the Executive Director for the Transportation Choices Coalition.

Alex Hudson of Transportation Choices

TCC Executive Director Alex Hudson speaks at the Seattle NO on I-976 kickoff (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

In King County, I-976 threatens local transportation projects.

Transportation benefit districts in King County provide:

  • $36 million a year to Seattle, which is used to fund more than 350,000 bus service hours (including the voter-approved service hours increase)
  • $919,000 a year to Des Moines
  • $834,000 a year to Shoreline
  • $767,000 a year to Burien
  • $376,000 to Mercer Island

Transportation benefit districts are a tool created by the Legislature to help communities solve transportation problems. Basic necessities like pavement repairs, crack sealing, lane striping, street lighting, pedestrian improvements, and Americans With Disabilities Act ramp work are funded by local tax dollars.

Sadly, Tim Eyman’s I-976 would strip that funding away.

In Spokane on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig was among the many regional business and civic leaders present at the NO on I-976 campaign launch.

In Southwest Washington, State Representative Monica Stonier, the House Majority Floor Leader, led the kickoff. Said one community leader:

…His group, which includes about ninety business leaders, voted unanimously to oppose I-976. He said its passage would create safety issues and a maintenance backlog. He said it would also mean fewer sidewalks, street lights and traffic management systems.

In a letter published in The Columbian, a Vancouver resident’s reaction to Initiative 976 is worth noting:

This money provides this state with remarkable roads, highways, repaving, repair of potholes, etc. Which I am always amazed by when comparing it to Oregon roads… if you have not noticed the difference in our streets and byways take the opportunity over the next couple of months to notice the difference, it is radically better north of the Columbia.

Emphasis is mine. Out of desperation, Portland residents even held a “patch-a-thon” in 2017 to fill potholes the city could not fix in time.

The city said it had a backlog numbering in the four digits.

Roads are a basic public service we need. It’s ridiculous for people to feel the need to fill potholes themselves because the city they live in doesn’t have the resources to do so. Washington has made great strides towards improving the safety and reliability of its roads and bridges. There’s a lot of work to do still, but that work can’t and won’t happen in a timely fashion if I-976 is implemented.

There are significant safety risks to de-funding transportation maintenance and improvements. WSDOT has identified one hundred and sixty bridges as being in poor condition and a threat to public safety. Even smaller road obstacles, like potholes, contribute to dangerous driving conditions.

Cuts to transit service will result in more cars on the road and more vehicle trips, making congestion worse and causing further damage to roadways.

Washington simply can’t afford Tim Eyman’s I-976.

NPI has worked continuously for more than a year to ensure that I-976 gets the vigorous opposition that it deserves. We’ve made great progress.

Now comes the final phase of the campaign.

NPI is proud to be a member of the broad and diverse coalition working to ensure that I-976 is defeated. Coalition membership is skyrocketing as individuals, businesses, nonprofits, labor unions, and civic organizations sign up on a daily basis to protect Washington’s transportation investments.

Join us at no976.org.

NPI’s Cascadia Advocate will continue to bring you updates on the effort to defeat I-976 as November 5th draws closer. We have just under seven weeks to defeat this devastating initiative. Let’s make it happen and Keep Washington Rolling.

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