Transportation used to be one of the few issues in Washington that was relatively bi-partisan – labor Democrats liked bigger transportation budgets because it meant more jobs for union members, and Republicans liked improving our transportation infrastructure to keep the state economically competitive (and because it meant more jobs).
However, in the last decade, as the Seattle liberals in the Legislature have become more dominant in leadership and more beholden to the special interest dollars flowing out from environmental groups and major “green” donors, transportation funding has played out on a more partisan battlefield.
For the extremists in Seattle, the goal is to use transportation spending for social engineering – we must get people out of their cars! Allegiance to building a massively expensive light rail system has become a litmus test for any Democrat wanting to get Seattle votes, as has opposing transportation deals that don’t provide an ever-increasing amount for all-things transit.
That fight is even more pronounced with Jay Inslee leading the Democrat Party in our state, as he has added the religious zeal of the anti-carbon, climate-change-is-the-only-issue-that-matters crowd to the equation.
Republicans seem to be the only ones actually listening to voters and in a negotiating mood. As Curtis King, the co-chair of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, wrote last month in the Everett Herald:
During our statewide listening tour, many Washingtonians voiced concern over public transit funding. So when the MCC plan was released this fall, it provided 12.2 percent for transit, bike and pedestrian paths, and additional local options. That’s more than twice the percentage of funding for transit in previous transportation packages. And in the latest round of negotiations, we have already increased that number even more.
But the Democrats can’t let voters know that Republicans are actually trying to repair roads, finish big projects andprovide transit funding, so the oft-repeated lie from Inslee on down the Democrat chain that they are just looking for a bi-partisan solution (perhaps a link from the AP forum today) – all while stonewalling any transportation progress behind doors.