Dow Constantine speaking
King County Executive Dow Constantine leads a NO on I-976 press conference in Seattle (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

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

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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