Mass Transit Opponent Tim Eyman Back Again
For those not familiar with Washington State politics, Tim Eyman is something of a facepalm to Puget Sound and a glaring downside to our citizen initiative process.
His past initiatives (full list here) have included crazy things like dictating that 90% of all transportation expenditures be spent on roads, even in Seattle; one mandating an immediate 25% cut to local property taxes statewide; and one that mandated all traffic lights to be on synchronized timers only and opened HOV lanes to everyone for at least 18 hours a day. His initiatives always include reducing or diverting revenue streams without creating any new ones to make up for it, and many times have turned out to be unconstitutional.
His most damning to our state have been I-695, which made our car tabs a flat $30 and eliminated the MVET that provided at least half the revenue for all transit systems in the state, and his recent initiative mimicking Colorado’s where it requires a 2:1 supermajority in our legislature to enact any new taxes, fees, or any other kind of revenue increases. It’s currently crippling our sales-tax-only state from making up the massive revenue shortfalls for education in particular. (Ironically, the initiative itself didn’t pass with a supermajority.)
This year’s Eyman initiative hopes to be equally devastating, particularly to future mass transit projects. In I-1125, gas taxes couldn’t be used for anything not transportation-related nor can be diverted from making state highway lanes, tolls could only pay for the specific section of roadway that’s being tolled, and the legislature itself must be the one to set the tolls.
This is an attack targeting:
-A proposal to fund a new light rail line using gas taxes that would normally go toward new state highway lanes.
-The proposed project to toll the I-90 floating bridge while the SR 520 floating bridge, which is pretty much guaranteed to sink in the next 20 years, is replaced.
-A proposal to use peak-hours tolling to build a new Portland-Vancouver bridge.
-Tolls being set by the state Transportation Commission appointed by the governor. Eyman wants tolls to be set by the legislature so tolls come under the jurisdiction of his last initiative and require a supermajority to be created or raised.
It also promises to put a major stranglehold on any future mass transit projects, as it essentially makes it impossible for such projects to be funded through tolls or gas taxes.
So, if anyone ever comes over here and wonders why Seattle-area transit is “different” (sucks) when compared to Portland, thank Tim Eyman.
And also, can you take him with you when you leave?