The case against Initiative 976 is made effectively in a Seattle Times op-ed by Larry Brown, president of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Steve Mullin president of the Washington Roundtable; and Alex Hudson, executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition. The three are leaders among the coalition of labor, environmental, civic, and business organizations working to defeat the initiative.
The public has been clear and consistent: We need better roads and more transportation options. As a result, investments at the local and state level are being used to prioritize road improvements, increase safety for bridges and overpasses and expand mass transit services where they matter most.
Initiative 976 threatens to undo all of that, and will slow our traffic and the economy.
This isn’t just about commute times, it’s also about jobs. Huge amounts of raw materials, agricultural goods and manufactured products move via roads and railways. That’s why our state’s business, labor and environmental leaders have all come together to oppose I-976. We agree that I-976 threatens our economy and our environment. It is far too costly.
We’ve written previously about the initiative, citing the reasons I-976 is opposed by the Association of Washington Business, the Seattle Times editorial board, and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial board.
Brown, Mullin and Hudson emphasize the wide-spread economic, safety and mobility damage passage of the initiative would wreak.
I-976 cuts $4 billion in state investments in roads, bridges, overpasses, ferries and transit service over the next 10 years. That’s not all. It would also cut $15 million per year from the Washington State Patrol, and threatens services like bus passes for low-income families, dial-a-ride, disaster relief transit, and tribal transit operations. Senior citizens, youth, veterans and people with disabilities depend on these services for basic mobility.
I-976 would also cut projects that have already been approved by voters, including Sound Transit. Cutting Sound Transit funds means the agency will have to borrow even more money to deliver on projects, and it will have to pay higher interest rates. Just like a pay cut makes it harder and more expensive to get a mortgage, the $7 billion cut to transit revenue leads to $13 billion in extra borrowing costs between 2021-2041, for a total $20-billion impact.