Morning Fizz

When You Adjust for Inflation

By Morning Fizz April 15, 2011

1. State Rep. Marko Liias (D-21, Edmonds) released a YouTube video yesterday in response to the charge that state spending is growing (the Republicans say spending during Gov. Chris Gregoire's leadership has grown 33 percent.)

Liias says nope: When you adjust for population growth and inflation, state government spending on services has remained consistent over the past 25 years at about $2,200 per capita.


2. Learn to trust the Fizz: As we reported yesterday, the UW and the city of Seattle have reached a deal over the city's 12.5 percent commercial parking tax, from which the UW was seeking an exemption in Olympia because they felt the tax would undermine their UPass program which relies on parking fees.

Yesterday, Fizz got the details of the deal: The city will pay the UW $500,000 a year to help fund the UPass for the next three years, and in exchange, the state senate will drop a poison pill in the transportation budget, which would have forced the city to exempt the UW from half the tax or lose all future regional mobility grants and forfeit its right to raise the tax higher in the future.

3. According to data from the state's transportation discipline report on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project, the deep-bore tunnel, would lead to higher vehicle miles traveled---a standard measure of how much people are driving---than the surface/transit/I-5 alternative.

[pullquote]For example, WSDOT estimates the daily number of vehicle miles traveled if the surface/transit option were built would be 109.4 million---97,000 less than if the deep-bore tunnel was built and tolled.[/pullquote]

For example, WSDOT estimates the daily number of vehicle miles traveled if the surface/transit option were built would be 109.4 million---97,000 less than if the deep-bore tunnel was built and tolled. Additionally, the number of vehicle hours traveled, another measure of how much people are driving, would be lower with the surface/transit option than with the tunnel---around 31,000, compared to 32,000 hours if the tunnel were built and tolled. Those aren't huge differences, but they do belie tunnel proponents' claims that the surface/transit option would result in gridlock.

4. Mayor Mike McGinn has been notably silent on city attorney Pete Holmes' recent announcement that he was suing to stop Initiative 101, the anti-tunnel initiative filed by  pro-viaduct-rebuild group, from going to the ballot. McGinn's silence has been a marked departure from his noisy disapproval when Holmes sued to stop a separate anti-tunnel measure, a referendum that would undo three tunnel-related agreements between the city and the state, from going on the ballot last month. At that time, McGinn accused Holmes of failing to represent the people of Seattle and trying to block the democratic process.

So what's different this time? Fizz caught up with McGinn at a viaduct oversight committee meeting in Olympia yesterday and asked him why he hadn't come out against the latest lawsuit. His response: "I believe the people have a right to vote before taking responsibility for cost overruns on the tunnel," but added that he's agnostic about which of the two anti-tunnel measures (or both) should go on the ballot. "I haven't attempted to do a legal analysis" of Initiative 101, he said.

5. Also at yesterday's viaduct meeting in Olympia, we asked Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant about comments his colleague Gael Tarleton made to PubliCola a few weeks ago to the effect that the Port could choose not to provide the full $300 million it has promised to help pay for the tunnel if it isn't satisfied with the final project. (The Port's contribution isn't due until near the end of tunnel construction, around 2016.)

Bryant told us he was confident the Port would provide the full $300 million, pointing out that the agency has already put $25 million aside toward its tunnel contribution. When we pointed out that a future Port Commission might not be as enthusiastic about the tunnel, Bryant said he believed that "the Port itself" as an institution, not just the current Port Commission, was committed to putting the full $300 million into the tunnel.
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