Old town road
The passage of an initiative that dials back Washington car tab fees jeopardizes transportation projects and could lead to severe public transit cuts in King County and metropolitan regions throughout the state.
Initiative 976, launched by anti-tax crusader and alleged desk-chair thief Tim Eyman, would cap fees paid to register most motor vehicles at $30 — a massive reduction equivalent to the cost of more than 100,000 hours of bus routes in Seattle alone. It also prohibits localities from voluntarily taxing themselves to fund transit.
If it withstands a court challenge, the measure would mean cuts to orca Opportunity, a program that provides free transit passes to 15,000 students and 1,500 low-income adults, and remove most funding for basic maintenance like pothole repairs, road paving and street cleaning.
The initiative will have ripple effects across Washington, according to the Washington Office of Financial Management. The state could lose as much as $1.9 billion in revenue over six years, including $1.5 billion from an account that funds transit statewide.
Washington’s most vulnerable residents will feel the effect. King County Metro’s paratransit program, Access, will lose $12.2 million. Regional grants to improve mobility will lose $22.8 million.
Eyman staked out a spot in the lobby of the Seattle mayor’s office before a press conference kicked off Thursday, Nov. 7. Video posted to Twitter shows a mother dependent on public transit and a representative of the Transportation Choices Coalition, Alex Hudson, confronting him.
“We’re coming for you,” Hudson said, instructing him to acknowldege a transit-dependant mother and the potential harm of his initiative.
The loss of funding for public transit comes at a time when localities are grappling with the effects of climate change. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, transportation is one of the largest consumers of energy and the largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions.
A federal judge knocked down a new rule from the Trump administration that would have given health care professionals the freedom to deny care to patients for religious or moral reasons.
The so-called “conscience rule” would have allowed health care workers to deny treatment to patients whether or not the patient was experiencing a medical emergency. The broad discretion to withhold care would have disproportionately impacted LGBTQIA+ people — who already face discrimination in health care — and residents of rural areas, who have fewer health care options.
The ruling is Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s 25th consecutive legal victory against the Trump administration, and Ferguson does not seem averse to running up the score.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
Read the full Nov. 13 - 19 issue.
© 2019 Real Change. All rights reserved.| Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice since 1994. Learn more about Real Change and donate now to support independent, award-winning journalism.