As Shift reported last week, Seattle Subway, a Sound Transit support group, doesn’t think those on the Left are thinking big enough when it comes to Sound Transit 3, the $15 billion light-rail tax package that the legislature voted to allow to go before voters in 2016. The transit “zealots”(as described by the liberal blog PubliCola) at Seattle Subway want Sound Transit to ask voters for a $30-billion dollar plan that “simply extends ST’s 15-year payment plan for a more comprehensive 30-year payment plan.”
Never mind the fact that Sound Transit has repeatedly demonstrated over the years that it does little to deserve the voters trust in spending their money responsibly. Being over-budget and late with virtually every project doesn’t exactly instill confidence.
Of course, the strategy is clear—and one that Democrats often rely on when asking voters for more of their hard-earned tax dollars. You see, the Left thinks it is more likely their tax plan (even one that doubles a $15 billion tax on homeowners and drivers) is more likely to pass during a presidential year when voter turnout of the least informed among us is at a peak.
Well, leave it to Sound Transit officials to drink some of the koolaid served by the lefty activists over at Seattle Subway. Last Friday, the transit agency announced it is considering a grander plan that includes a second downtown light-rail tunnel, with the overall plan projected (the word is at its loosest when it comes to Sound Transit) to take 25 years and cost $27 billion.
And—surprise, surprise—Sound Transit want to put this bloated tax package on the 2016 ballot.
“[Light rail] would begin just east of the International District/Chinatown Station, cross below the current tunnel near Westlake Station, and continue through South Lake Union to Uptown, at the foot of Queen Anne Hill.
“The purpose is to carry more train traffic in 2040, by the time 1million new residents arrive, regional ridership grows, and tracks are added to serve Ballard and West Seattle.”
So, how much will this closing-in-on $30 billion plan cost for all the not-so-certain promises it makes? From the Times,
“The agency staff Friday released 15-year, 20-year and 25-year construction options. Each requires the same $200 a year average per adult in tax increases, for urban parts of Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, agency staff members say. The longer the timeline, the more can be built.”
Just to be clear, each staff plan requires an average tax increase of $200 a year per adult… for a transit plan that—given Sound Transit’s track record—will not be built on time or on budget.
How can Sound Transit ask voters for a whopping $27 billion, given it had to receive approval by the state Legislature for $15 billion? Again, according to the Times,
“The transportation-funding law does set ceilings on the tax rates — which must be approved by voters anyway — but there is no budget cap, and Sound Transit may collect indefinitely to finish and operate the projects.”
Whether or not the politicians on the non-elected Sound Transit board will agree to the proposition of asking voters for nearly $30 billion—by essentially changing its plans for ST3—is uncertain. But, considering lead Sound Transit cheerleader (and King County Executive) Dow Constantine is head of this unelected board, we’re not holding our breath for a sensible vote.
A draft plan for the new proposition is due by March (if Sound Transit can manage that due date). The release of the plan will be followed by a taxpayer-funded public propaganda push (which they will call “outreach”). A final board decision is expected in June.
But, before Sound Transit can push a new package—whether it’s a $15 or a $27 billion package—it’s going to have to address an essential question voters must ask themselves: Can voters really trust Sound Transit to keep its promises and spend their hard-earned tax dollars responsibility, or is it time to send the transit zealots back to the drawing board for a plan that actrually reduces traffic congestion?
Time and time again, Sound Transit has proven itself untrustworthy. It has wasted taxpayer dollars and has repeatedly broken promises made in its first two spending packages—ST1 and ST2. If voters approve another $15 billion package, much less a $27 billion package, they would effectively throw good money after bad.