This afternoon, King County Executive Dow Constantine will announce a countywide ballot measure that will increase vehicle-license fees across the county by $60 a year, and boost local sales taxes by one-tenth of one percent. The new fee and tax increase, combined, would raise approximately $130 million a year; 60 percent of that would pay to preserve transit service and 40 percent would be divided between cities in the county to pay for roads.
At this morning's city council transportation committee meeting, committee chair Tom Rasmussen decried Olympia's "monumental lack of leadership" in failing to pass a transportation revenue package that would give King County voters the ability to approve a motor-vehicle excise tax (which is less regressive than either a flat license fee or a sales tax because it's indexed to the value of a driver's vehicle).
"We don't have a lot of time," Rasmussen continued. "We want to prevent the loss of over 600,000 hours"—or about 17 percent—"of transit service, and in order to prevent that loss, we have to take a measure before the voters.
"It's essential to our economy; it's essential to the livability of our region. [Legislators] are making a very poor decision by not taking action now. It has the potential of crippling our economic recovery and our competitiveness with other regions throughout the U.S. I really don't know what they're thinking. It just seems like power politics more than anything," Rasmussen continued.
"Well, that's my tirade," he concluded.
Constantine's announcement is scheduled for 2:00 this afternoon.