Seattle Chamber: I-985 a step backwards

September 22, 2008 by · Comments Off on Seattle Chamber: I-985 a step backwards
Filed under: Analysis, Endorsements 

The Board of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce recently voted to oppose Initiative 985 because the increased traffic I-985 would create isn’t good for our workforce or our economy. Here are a few of the concerns cited by the chamber in its opposition statement:

Negative fiscal impact: The state’s Office of Financial Management estimates that I-985 would redirect approximately $600 million in state funds over five years. This could push the state budget deficit past $3 billion, which runs counter to the Chamber’s longstanding support for statewide fiscal responsibility and is unwise in a time of economic uncertainty. I-985 could also harm the state’s already stretched transit agencies, stripping an estimated $20 million over five years in federal transit funds as a result of opening HOV lanes to all traffic during non-peak hours. Additionally, the new account mandated by I-985 specifically bans the use of its funds for park and ride lots, ferries, buses and rail.

Untenable situation for SR 520 and I-90: The Chamber is playing a central role in the 520 mediation process. Although substantial progress has been made, financing the replacement continues to be an open question. Most finance plans assume more than $1 billion will be generated by tolls. Tolling 520 and not I-90, as this initiative would mandate, could have disastrous results for regional congestion.

Traffic light synchronization: Many cities across the state have already enacted the synchronization mandated by this initiative. Currently, fines from red light violations go to those cities or local jurisdictions. Under the initiative, they would be redirected to the new state “Reduce Traffic Congestion Account.” While this account does allow funds to be spent on synchronization, cities and local jurisdictions that have already installed cameras stand to lose $40 million over the next five years.

 The NO on 985 Coalition is a diverse group of Washingtonians from many different backgrounds fighting to preserve and enhance the Evergreen State’s quality of life.

Governor Gregoire strongly opposed to I-985

September 1, 2008 by · Comments Off on Governor Gregoire strongly opposed to I-985
Filed under: Endorsements 

Recently, the NPI Advocate published an interview with Chris Gregoire which included a question asking for her position on Initiative 985. Here’s the governor’s interview with NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve:

ANDREW: You’ve been good about coming out and telling people where you stand on issues; that’s something your opponent doesn’t do. Do you have a position on Initiative 985, the traffic measure – the More Traffic Measure?

GOVERNOR: Opposed.

ANDREW: You’re opposed?

GOVERNOR: Opposed.

ANDREW: You don’t like the idea of opening carpool lanes during rush hour?

GOVERNOR: No! It won’t work! Because it’s this… micromanaging… saying, these hours [referring to the set six hours when carpool lanes will remain carpool lanes]…well, it doesn’t work like that on every road! So what we’re going to end up with is an inability to enforce from a law enforcement perspective – it won’t work – and we’re going to have worse congestion, not better. Worse congestion.

So, it’s a bill of goods, it’s not going to work, and oh by the way, it’s going to steal money from the general fund… which means we’re going to steal money from education, or healthcare, or community safety.

ANDREW: And you’re aware that the initiative actually prohibits spending money on ferries and rail and other [alternatives to highways]…?


ANDREW: I mean, it’s ridiculous.

GOVERNOR: Yeah. Absolutely. So, absolutely opposed.

Initiative 985 would steal money away from underfunded services like our schools, worsen your commute, and lengthen the amount of time you’re away from your family. I-985 is a bad idea. Vote no.

PTA opposes Initiative 985

August 21, 2008 by · Comments Off on PTA opposes Initiative 985
Filed under: Endorsements 

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association is taking a stand against Initiative 985 because of its harmful impact to our state’s public schools.

Here’s an excerpt from their news release last Friday:

According to the Office of Financial Management, the initiative could result in as much as $665 million being diverted from the general fund over a five-year period…While some of the 18 board members were empathetic to the need to improve transportation, a significant majority voted to oppose the initiative because of concerns that the diversion of general fund moneys would result in unacceptable cuts to other programs, particularly K-12 education, health care and other programs that are important to children.

Initiative 985 actually does nothing to improve our transportation system. Instead, it makes traffic worse by opening HOV lanes during rush hour and forcing the state to spend a significant amount money on new highway lanes only. Vote NO on 985 and protect your community from the More Traffic Measure.

I-985: Budget buster

August 7, 2008 by · Comments Off on I-985: Budget buster
Filed under: Analysis 

The Tri-City Herald has the scoop:

[I-985] would cost the state general fund $620 million over five years.The impact on the budget deficit facing lawmakers in January would be about $290 million…

The state budget is already tight — and I-985 would just make a bad situation worse.

Raiding the general fund

July 28, 2008 by · Comments Off on Raiding the general fund
Filed under: Analysis 

I-985 raids the state “general fund” of about $575 million through the end of 2013.

What’s the general fund used for? This document (pdf) has the answers. In round numbers:

52 percent goes to education
30 percent goes to social and health services
6 percent goes to corrections
5 percent services bond debt
Less than 2 percent each go to government operations and natural resources
3.5 percent goes to “everything else” 

Take a look:So assuming the debt service is off limits, I-985 will mostly steal money from education, health, and law enforcement, to pay for pet transportation projects in the Puget Sound. Is this what taxpayers really want?

The budget impact keeps growing

July 26, 2008 by · Comments Off on The budget impact keeps growing
Filed under: Analysis 

An update on how much money I-985 raids from the general fund, by budget cycle:

’07-’09: $52 million (it’s in effect for less than half a year)
’09-’11: $238 million
’11-’13: $284 million 

$284 million is the equivalent of almost $50 of tax money from each Washington resident, from every corner of the state, to pay for road projects that will likely be concentrated in urban Puget Sound.

I-985 would "compound an already gloomy budget situation"

July 24, 2008 by · Comments Off on I-985 would "compound an already gloomy budget situation"
Filed under: Analysis 

The Tri-City Herald weighs in on I-985:

2 initiatives could bungle state budgetTwo citizens initiatives likely to qualify for the November ballot would compound an already gloomy budget situation if approved by voters, possibly pushing the state’s shortfall past $3 billion

[P]reliminary estimates from the Department of Revenue indicate Tim Eyman’s traffic congestion measure — Initiative 985 — would cost the state about $290 million during the next two-year budget cycle and the rest of the current one.

$290 million for a bunch of pet transportation projects sure ain’t chump change — especially at a time when the state budget’s tight anyway. So much for fiscal discipline and protecting the taxpayer.

I-985 raids money from the state general fund

July 24, 2008 by · Comments Off on I-985 raids money from the state general fund
Filed under: Analysis 

The Department of Revenue estimates that I-985 will take over $290 million from the General Fund by the end of the next 2-year budget cycle:

FY 2009: $51.7 million (It’d only be in effect for half the year.)

FY 2010: $114.4 million

FY 2011: $123.9 million

It raises a good question: what could you do with $290 million? Certainly, you could do better than to siphon it from all over the state to pay for some pet transportation projects in urban Puget Sound.