We're forgoing our regular Morning Fizz report of caffeinated news and gossip to write an angry editorial about the state legislature's misallocation of stimulus money; i.e., millions of dollars are going to Red district projects whose legislators said they didn't want the money, while Seattle is getting stiffed.—Eds.
Unfinished projects from the state's Nickel Account project list—road projects that were authorized when the state legislature passed the .5-cent gas tax increase in 2003—got top priority this week when state legislators decided how to divvy up the $341 million in federal stimulus money for road work.
Meanwhile, as we all know, one project that didn't make the cut was Mercer St.—a Seattle project that was relying on $50 million from the federal stimulus account.
The Mercer St. project wasn't a Nickel Account project, but PubliCola did a little checking, and get this: $40 million of the money that's going to backlog Nickel Account projects is going to districts whose legislators voted against the nickel tax.
Indeed, $30 million is going to the I-82/Valley Mall Blvd. project in Yakima. In 2003, Yakima's then-state senator, Sen. Alex Deccio (R-14), voted against the nickel tax.
$10 million is going to SR 501/Ridgefield Interchange in North Clark County. In 2003, North Clark County's state senator, Sen. Joseph Zarelli (R-18), voted against the nickel tax.
Question: If the voters in these districts support legislators who voted against the nickel tax, why should their nickel tax projects go to the top of the list?
Adding insult to injury, the $30 million project in Yakima happens to be in the 4th U.S. Congressional District—home to U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA). Guess how Rep. Hastings voted on the fedreal stimulus package. He voted "Nay," and he had this to say: "More spending, [and] bigger government ... financed by raising taxes and forcing future generations to foot the bill is not the solution."
Seattle's Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA, 7) voted for the stimulus package.
Where's Seattle's $40 million?
And you know who else voted against the federal stimulus package? U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5), who represents Eastern Washington, including Spokane.
If Seattle wants to get up to the magic $50 million for Mercer, there's another $10 million going to road paving on US 395/Loon Lake to Immel Road (about 40 miles northwest of Spokane). Loon Lake carries about 7,000 vehicles a day. Mercer St.? 39,000.
Sigh. Olympia's anti-Seattle schtick has become pathological.