Gas tax increase means bigger public payouts to for-profit tribal businesses

August 25, 2015 in Blog

In Washington state, for-profit businesses owned by 24 Indian tribes have special agreements to receive payments out of the public treasury. Under an arrangement made by Governor Gregoire in 2007, 19 of these tribes receive “refund” payments equal to 75% of the state gas tax on all motor vehicle fuel sold on tribal lands.

Another project in Seattle goes overbudget

August 21, 2015 in Blog

KING 5 News reported today that the Seattle Seawall Project will take a year longer to build than officials promised. In addition, Seattle officials have increased the project budget from the original $290 million price tag to $409 million, a 33% increase.

Despite promises of faster commutes, Seattle’s transit-only lanes failing drivers

August 17, 2015 in Blog

The recent news story about public officials not letting the Ride the Ducks group tour vehicles use bus lanes has renewed a controversy over reserving parts of public streets for transit only. Last year, KOMO TV reported many in the public are unhappy with the government-restricted lanes, including the tagger of the well-known plea, “Metro stop stealing our lanes.”  The public response prompted a debate about whether the lanes are working for people or not.

Vancouver, B.C. voters reject light rail and subway projects

July 2, 2015 in Blog

While Sound Transit officials prepare to ask people living in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to pay billions in new taxes for more costly light rail projects, they may be experiencing nervous shock at what just happened in a neighboring city to the north.  Voters in Metro Vancouver, B.C. just handed a resounding “No” to local transit officials, coming in 62% against a proposed subway and light rail expansion project.

Building light rail is not an effective way to reduce traffic congestion

April 17, 2015 in Blog

Three elected officials serving on Sound Transit’s Board recently penned an editorial in The Seattle Times calling for a $15 billion increase in regressive taxes to build more light rail. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts and Redmond Mayor John Marchione argue that building light rail is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions and improve mobility.

Insider Project Labor Agreements likely to inflate construction costs on Seattle public projects

April 10, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this year the Seattle City Council passed Ordinance 124690, forcing the use of costly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and “Priority Hire” on public projects of $5 million or more. The new rule hurts the public interest because it inflates project costs; studies show PLAs artificially boost project costs by 12% to 18%. PLAs eliminate competitive bidding, pushing labor costs higher than normal market wages.

State officials rush to re-open a collapsed highway bridge, but quietly cancel ferry runs that leave the public stranded

March 11, 2015 in Publications

Last year, a section of the Interstate 5 Bridge over the Skagit River collapsed when its overhead structure was hit by a truck, severing a vital transportation link between British Columbia and Seattle. High-level officials immediately announced they would get people moving again. Governor Inslee traveled to the site and issued a state of emergency to speed rebuilding efforts and create detours around the catastrophe, calling the collapse a “public disaster.” In less than 24 hours, Department of Transportation officials undertook plans to rebuild the bridge.

Sound Transit receives negative financial outlook from S&P

January 3, 2015 in Blog

According to new information released by The Bond Buyer, Standard and Poors has revised Sound Transit’s outlook from stable to negative.

King County Municipal League says vote “No” on Seattle Proposition 1 regressive tax increases

October 15, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday, the Municipal League of King County announced it is recommending a “No” vote on Seattle’s Proposition 1 ballot measure to increase car tab fees and sales taxes to send more money to King County Metro Transit.  In the announcement the Municipal League said, “voters do not have a clear understanding of what they are voting to approve,” and that passing Proposition 1 would be giving a “blank check” to transit agency managers. 

Bad budget management and poor use of public money cause financial mess at Island Transit

July 30, 2014 in Blog

New information from Island Transit shows a series of poor financial decisions made by local managers are the source of the district’s trouble, not lack of state money. Island Transit provides bus service and vanpools throughout Whidbey and Camano Islands, with routes connecting Skagit and Snohomish Counties. The agency is fully subsidized by taxpayers and doesn’t collect fares from passengers. Earlier this year, Island Transit officials announced plans to cut the Camano Island to Everett bus route, citing a lack of state tax money as the primary reason.

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