A new report suggests its time to reexamine Sound Transit which is nearly 200% above original budget and building a transit system which no longer meets commuters’ work requirements.
In Idaho, where elected officials respect taxpayers, they are already discussing future tax cuts due to a projected $1.3 billion in surplus tax revenues. Republican Governor Brad Little said, “We have achieved historic tax cuts for you in the past few years, and we are not done yet. Our conservative principles mean more tax cuts are coming. You will be getting more of your hard-earned dollars back in your pockets and bank accounts.”
This is a sharp contrast to what recently took place in Washington State, where Democrat Governor Jay Inslee and the Democrat-controlled 2022 legislature provided absolutely no tax relief to Washington’s workers despite the state’s record-breaking $15 billion tax revenue surplus. Instead they chose to spend all but $200,000 of the surplus on making state government larger and more expensive, even though it had already doubled in size during the Inslee Administration. Democrats shot down Republican proposals to reduce the state sales tax, gas tax, property taxes, B&O tax, and even one to eliminate taxes on diapers, to help low- and middle- income families who are suffering due to the Democrats’ inflationary policies.
Washington Democrats are even less concerned about the financial difficulties facing working families than their Democrat colleagues in other states. Nearly all of the 14 states in which Democrats control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office have passed some form of tax relief for their residents. This includes such liberal tax-and-spend states of New York and Illinois. Proving that the extremist who currently control Washington government are not only outliers of all state governments, but they are more extreme than other Democrat-controlled states. (Idaho Governor Little media release and Centralia Chronicle)
Senator Lynda Wilson (R – Vancouver) is upset that a council appointed by Governor Inslee can make such destructive rules as the Washington Building Codes Council recently did when it prohibited natural gas in all new commercial buildings and in residential structures of four stories or more. Senator Wilson said, “I’m very frustrated with the fact that it was the Building Codes Council that decided this. They are unelected and unaccountable to the public.” In fact these individuals are so far removed from public accountability that the council’s own website says the public cannot email councilmembers directly, but that all communications must first go through the council’s staff.
Senator Wilson said that this decision, which will further increase the cost to own a home and operate a business in Washington State, should have been made by the legislature. The passage of this extreme regulation by an Inslee-controlled, non-accountable council is even more frustrating knowing that a similar expensive natural gas prohibition (HB 1084) was introduced in the legislature but failed to obtain enough support to even make it out of a Democrat-dominated Appropriations Committee during the 2021 – 2022 legislative sessions. (KING5 News, Washington State Building Code Council website, and Washington Legislature Bill Summary)
Liberal inflationary policies are increasing food insecurities for fixed- and lower-income households and this is impacting state food banks. These families are the most negatively effected by the rising cost of goods under liberal policies and the Democrats’ refusal to provide some relief through reducing the state’s sales, gas, or property taxes. Many people are visiting food banks for the first time as they find out they don’t have enough money to pay the bills. Inflation is impacting food banks in two ways. The first is an increase in number of people seeking assistance (some food banks have experienced a 40% jump). The second is they have to pay more for the food they provide. (Seattle P-I)
A new report strongly suggests placing Sound Transit’s construction projects on hold as cost overruns, loss of farebox revenue, and the dramatic increase of people working from home has resulted in conditions which are much different then what was promised to voters when they passed the ST3 ballot measure in 2016. The report by Mariya Frost of the Washington Policy Center recalls that seven years ago Sound Transit supporters assured the public that the regional light rail system would be built for $54 billion. This figure has now nearly tripled to $142 billion (and will likely continue to rise). The voters were promised that riders would pay for 40% of the system’s operating cost. Due to relaxing fare enforcement policies (the board recently approved an “equitable” procedure which basically allows anyone to ride the system for free) and decreased commuter levels, passengers’ fares now pay for less than 8% of operating cost (and this is expected to decline further). Finally, due to more people working from home, unsanitary conditions on trains, and continued uneasiness about riding mass transit, ridership is far below promised estimates. Currently ridership is 40% less than what it was two years ago, and trends indicate it will likely not rebound anytime soon.
Due to these reasons and the fact that money spent on cost overruns could fund other more pressing needs (it “could end the homelessness crisis four times over and have money left over” according to one consultant), the report recommends it is time to pause and re-evaluate the project. It states that Sound Transit “should be subjected to a comprehensive performance and cost audit, and perhaps shrunk to an affordable, cost-effective program.” Unfortunately, given that Sound Transit’s Board of Directors is dominated with fiscally reckless liberal politicians who are not directly elected by the public to serve on the board, there is very little chance that this out-of-control transit agency will be subject to a serious re-evaluation. As the result, we will see Sound Transit continue its irresponsible behavior and residents will continue to see their property taxes, car tab fees, and sales taxes rise while others will ride the expensive system for free. (Washington Policy Center, Seattle Times, and Sound Transit Board of Directors)
Capitol Hill residents and businesses who are suing the City of Seattle over the city’s (in)actions during the 2020 riots by liberal activists, which led to the creation of the lawless CHAZ/CHOP, received a small setback from the federal judge overseeing the cases. Judge Thomas Zilly ruled that the lawsuits do not meet the criteria to be categorized as a class action lawsuit due to lack of commonality (the businesses and residents were not all negatively impacted in the same manner or by the same actions). The judge advised the 17 plaintiffs to regroup and determine what their next actions will be. The lawsuit stems from the City of Seattle abandoning the police department’s East Precinct and then supporting the illegal liberal rioters by providing toilets, water, and garbage removal services as if they were legal residents. (MyNorthwest)
Inflation caused by liberal policies will result in Bellingham residents’ sewage rates quadrupling in the coming years. The city is replacing its aging Post Point wastewater treatment facility and construction costs are skyrocketing, and this will result in higher sewage rates. At first it was believed rates would only double, but consultants recently informed the Bellingham City Council that the high rate of inflation will result in the rates rising by 400% to pay for the new facility. (Bellingham Herald)
Ethics complaints have been filed against liberal Spokane leaders as the city attempts to open a much-needed homeless shelter. Both complaints are related to the city selecting an operator for the facility.
The first complaint was made against the former Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, who now serves as the Chair of the City of Spokane’s Continuum of Care board, which coordinates the city’s homelessness response. Shift has often reported on former Council President Stuckart, as both he and his supporters have committed several ethics violations over the past few years. This ethics complaint was made by current City Councilmember Jonathan Bingle, who said that Stuckart would financially benefit if the controversial Jewels Helping Hands was selected to run the homeless shelter. Stuckart is expected to earn more than $150,000 if Jewels received the contract.
Current City Council President Breean Beggs is the subject of the second complaint made by a private citizen over allegations he leaked internal documents on the selection procedure before the process was complete. Council President Beggs denies he was the source of the leaked documents. Yet because the unfinished report was made public, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said the process needed to be scrapped and started over again. (CenterSquare and Shift)
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