Coalition forms to oppose Initiative 985

July 24, 2008 by · Comments Off on Coalition forms to oppose Initiative 985
Filed under: Announcements 

Coalition Emerging to Oppose Initiative 985

Proposed Initiative Would Cut Funding for Education and Health
Care while Increasing Traffic Congestion

SEATTLE – As the Secretary of State’s Office qualified I-985 for the November ballot, a diverse array of interests from across the state are emerging to oppose this latest measure from Tim Eyman.

Opponents cited a long list of problems that would be caused or exacerbated by I-985. “Initiative 985 is an initiative that promises everything for nothing,” said Bill LaBorde, State Director for Environment Washington and a spokesperson for the No! on I-985 campaign. It would divert more than $127 million per year that now goes to the general operating budget into a dedicated account that would do little address the state’s transportation problems. Added LaBorde, “with most of the general fund dedicated to education (52%), and health care and social services (30.5%), $127 million a year is a hit that the people of our state can ill afford to take at this moment of economic uncertainty.”

Mike Town, a Lake Washington School District teacher, raised concerns about the impacts of I-985 on his high school students: “We would lose funding that now helps pay for text books and reductions in class size,” he said.

“Even if you buy the argument that we can build our way out of congestion, $127 million a year doesn’t do much building but it sure takes lots of valuable funding away from kids and sick people, said LaBorde. “With that $127 million you could either educate more than 16,000 kids in our public schools, or you could add maybe a mile of new freeway in the Puget Sound area. You could provide health insurance coverage for 40,000 children, or you could build a ramp on a new interchange.” “Because of the constraints this measure places on tolling and transportation spending, I’m worried that if it passes, we will simply not have the funding necessary to replace the SR 520 floating bridge, said Rob Johnson, Regional Policy Director for Transportation Choices Coalition.

I-985 would also require opening High Occupancy Vehicle lanes to solo drivers for all but three hours each weekday morning and evening, creating havoc with an HOV system that has taken decades to build. “This would undermine the advantages that express buses, vanpools and carpools now have during certain peak hours, making it more difficult for commuters to get to work quickly and reliably at a time when rising gas prices are creating huge increases in transit ridership.” “The ironic thing about the so-called Congestion Relief Initiative is that there’s not a single provision in it that will actually provide any congestion relief. In fact, it probably makes congestion worse,” noted Johnson.

The initiative would also require cities to spend scarce dollars on traffic light synchronization projects which, in many cases, offer no improvement in traffic congestion. By diverting revenue from the operation of red light cameras, the measure would decrease safety in school zones and other areas with heavy pedestrian activity. Under the I-985, the State would be specifically prohibited from using any money from the Congestion Account for some of the most practical and effective methods for reducing congestion – “…park and ride lots, ferries, trolleys, buses, monorail, light rail, or heavy rail.”

Even worse, I-985 creates greater inequities between rural and urban communities by diverting sales tax dollars collected from around the state to fix congestion problems that mostly affect the Puget Sound area. Urban communities lose control; rural communities lose money.

FUSE Washington, Transportation Choices Coalition, the Sierra Club, Environment Washington, Futurewise, WashPIRG and Washington Environmental Council have already joined the coalition against I-985. Over the next few weeks, several more business and labor organizations are expected to join the campaign against the initiative.

Our campaign is coming together…

July 24, 2008 by · Comments Off on Our campaign is coming together…
Filed under: Announcements 

Here’s the press:

I-985 qualifies

July 24, 2008 by · Comments Off on I-985 qualifies
Filed under: Announcements 

It’s on the ballot:

Secretary of State Sam Reed said Friday that Initiative 985, sponsored by initiative activist Tim Eyman, collected enough valid voter signatures to win a spot on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. 

Of course, the article simply accepts the spin that I-985 is “designed to ease traffic congestion.” It’s not. It does a few things to reduce congestion. But it does some other things that are likely to increase rush-hour congestion, like shorten the hours that HOV lanes operate — which can actually reduce the number of trips that a highway can handle.

But mostly it just raids the state General Fund, transferring money from rural areas to pay for King County road and street projects.


July 23, 2008 by · Comments Off on Welcome
Filed under: Announcements 

Welcome to the NO on I-985 Coalition blog. Here, you can find the latest news from the campaign and commentary on recent news articles.

The Coalition is a diverse group of Washingtonians fighting to preserve and enhance our collective quality of life.

We oppose Initiative 985 because it would further cripple our already dysfunctional transportation system, moving us backwards instead of forwards.

Traffic congestion already costs our economy, our environment, and our families. We simply can’t afford to make it worse by approving an ill-conceived initiative that will bring us bigger traffic headaches.