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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