1. Sightline, which reported last week that the state house transportation package spends 92 cents of every dollar on highways, roads, and megaprojects, has more bad news for sustainability advocates today: Not only is the proposal bad for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users—thanks to all those megaprojects, it includes very little to operate and maintain our current transportation system.
For every dollar in the package, just 12 cents goes to operations, maintenance, and preservation of existing roads and bridges; meanwhile, 66 percent of every dollar goes to new highway megaprojectsa stark illustration of state house Democrats' transportation funding priorities.
2. Speaking of megaprojects: The News Tribune's Jordan Schrader reports that amid all the talk about big road construction projects like the Columbia River Crossing and the extension of SRs 509 and 167, one critical project that risks being left behind is the completion of the 520 bridge across Lake Washington.
Already, the house transportation committee's budget plan pushes 520 funding to the back of the pack, by making 520 dollars contingent on legislative approval of either tolls on I-90 or an additional three-cent gas tax on top of the 10-cent hike the committee has already proposed. Neither of those options are popular with Republicans, who may grumble in the house but who run the senate.
3. BikePortland reports on the news, announced today, that Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share will launch and operate Puget Sound Bike Share, which will begin as a 500-bike, 50-rack Seattle bike-share program. After opening in Seattle next spring, PSBS plans to expand throughout the region. To deal with some of the challenges that are unique to Seattle—the helmet law and hills, respectively—the system will include helmet dispensing machines and the bikes will have seven speeds (instead of the customary three).
4. State house Democrats have pulled back on efforts to extend a tax on beer to help pay for education and deal with a state revenue shortfall, the AP reports.
Extending the beer tax on large brewers and applying it to small brewers would have raised an estimated $60 million over two years. Small brewers protested the tax, which would have added about 6 cents to the cost of a bottle of beer, saying it would hurt small businesses; the state faces a budget deficit of more than $1.2 billion.
5. The AP reports that although the state senate passed legislation Monday that would repeal the state's family and medical leave act if the state can't come up with funding for the program—which provides working Washington residents up to $250 a week to take care of a new baby or sick family member—by the end of 2015.
But over in the house, Rep. Tami Green (D-28), who sponsored legislation that would have funded and implemented the family and medical leave act, says the proposal is unlikely to pass that chamber in its current form.