GOP Council Member Hague Won't Support $20 Transit Fee; Public Vote Likely

By Erica C. Barnett April 22, 2011

Today's loser:  Transit advocates in King County, who will likely have to mount a major campaign in November to pass an emergency funding fee for King County Metro.

King County Council member Jane Hague, a Republican, tells PubliCola she'll vote against any proposal to pass a $20 vehicle license fee without a vote of the people.The license fee would help Metro address an estimated $200 million funding shortfall over the next two years.

Under legislation passed by the senate this morning, the county council can either pass the two-year emergency transit funding fee on its own with a two-thirds supermajority vote, or it can put the proposal on a countywide ballot, where it will need to win a simple majority. "I will support a vote of the people," Hague says.

Without Hague's vote, the county council is almost certain to stalemate along party lines, with the council's five Democrats voting to simply pass the fee and its four Republicans voting no. Hague, who is being challenged by at least two opponents for reelection this year, has been considered the swing vote (she testified in favor of the broader version of the legislation in Olympia back in February, but said she didn’t know how she would ultimately vote) on the $20 fee.

Hague has two challengers in her bid for reelection this year, and was reportedly under pressure to vote for the fee to assuage moderate supporters. On the other hand, every Eastside Republican in the state senate (Hague represents east King County) voted against giving the county council the authority to pass the fee.
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