I-745 shifts money around but doesn’t offer solutions

If this state had a transportation czar, it’s likely she or he would raise gasoline taxes to pay for more roads. That would discourage driving in general and fuel inefficient cars in particular. And it would build more roads to ease the congestion crisis. Assuming people could gradually switch to efficient cars, the approach would even tax the heaviest users the most, the same group that will benefit the most from more road construction.

Unfortunately, there is no quick way to a simple solution. And gas taxes are apparently so unpopular, that the Legislature and the governor will not pass these ideas nor put them on the ballot as a referendum.

Sadly, the politicians’ disdain for increasing the gas tax is compounded by the inability of elected officials to develop a comprehensive transportation plan with existing funds. The main achievement of the last six years of legislative activity was Referendum 49, the $2 billion road-building referendum that unfortunately relied on the very unpopular, and now expunged, motor vehicle excise tax.

Into this environment charges Initiative 745 and Tim Eyman, champion of I-695 and now apparently collaborator with the road-building and asphalt-paving industry. This somewhat unlikely coalition proposes to change the state’s funding formula for transportation spending from 70 percent roads, 30 percent alternatives to a 90-10 ratio.

Eyman is right that we need more roads. He is wrong in acting like we can accomplish anything by taking money from transit. It’s a huge — and unwarranted — leap of faith to suppose that we can take away buses and other forms of commuting options without clogging the movement of people and goods even further.

Sadly, there are no free lunches because the money has to come from somewhere, most likely from transit funding. It’s absurd to think that there is enough fat to finance a significant share of our needs by tightening up construction practices (though we suspect you could run quite a few buses with the potential savings or could speed up road work).

So here’s the dark side of I- 745: No ready source of funds to build roads other than what exists elsewhere in the state budget. Furthermore, guess who gets to put together this wonderful road-building plan? The same Legislature that has been unable to develop any comprehensive transportation solutions other than R-49 — wrecked by the same Mr. Eyman.

Lastly, if transit funding is whacked again (I-695 did a pretty good job of this already), the short-term result will be more congested roads as many transit riders return to their cars. Also, be prepared for a significant wait for new road projects in this region. For the foreseeable future, road construction planning will be held hostage by our endangered local salmon runs.

What we should be having is an initiative on how to get more money for transportation in general. What I-745 does is to shift transportation money around, a classic instance of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Vote no on I-745.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, Feb. 25

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2015 file photo, a tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a wildfire burning near Twisp, Wash. Three firefighters were killed battling the blaze. The story was a top Washington state news item in 2015. Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has proposed a plan to strengthen the ways that Washington can prevent and respond to wildfires. Franz released the 10-year plan last week as part of her $55 million budget request to the Legislature to improve the state's firefighting abilities (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Editorial: Wildfire threat calls for restoring full funding

Lawmakers should restore funding for fighting wildfires and call on one furry firefighter in particular.

Comment: Charity scandal shows Providence ignoring its mission

Ordered to forgive $157 million it charged the poor, the hospital system needs better oversight of officials.

Flowers and a photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are placed near the Russian consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. Navalny, who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests as President Vladimir Putin's fiercest foe, died Friday in the Arctic penal colony where he was serving a 19-year sentence, Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Comment: Navalny’s death only deepens resolve of Putin’s foes

Even in losing elections, Navalny and others have shown that opposition to Putin is effective.

Women’s health care supporters have chance to flip Congress seat

When Roe v. Wade was overturned it simply opened the floodgates to… Continue reading

Comment: Wildfire problem is matter of fuel load, not climate

By limiting the harvest of timber in the state we allowed the forests’ fuel load to grow; and then burn.

Comment: Street seating in Snohomish needs to get permit or go

With the pandemic emergency over, the city can’t allow street seating to remain unless permitted.

Editorial cartoons for Friday, Feb. 23

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Jaime Benedict, who works as a substitute teacher, waves to drivers on the corner of Mukilteo Speedway and Harbor Pointe Boulevard while holding a sign in support of the $240 million capital bond proposal for Mukilteo School District on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Bar set unfairly high for passage of school bonds

Requiring 60 percent approval denies too many students the schools and facilities they deserve.

Comment: Presidential primary launches state’s election season

With ballots in the mail, here’s what to know and how to prepare for making your choice for U.S. president.

Editorial cartoons for Saturday, Feb. 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Forum: Keeping gazebo great idea, but who’s going to pay for it?

The Bayside Neighborhood has discussed this for three years, but the city doesn’t have the $300,000 to restore it.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.