I'm at the final King County Council meeting on a potential temporary $20 vehicle license fee for Metro, where dozens of folks have signed up to speak out against cutting 600,000 hours of bus service, or 17 percent of all service countywide. The measure needs six council of nine council votes to pass; so far, only the council's five Democrats have said they'll support the fee. The measure can also be passed by a public vote if five council members vote to put it on the ballot. All nine members are at this afternoon's meeting.

So far, no one has spoken against the fee.

Josh Kavanagh, director of transportation for the University of Washington, told the council, "transit is a basic service, which is clearly the domain of the council. If we send basic services to the voters, we are in effect saying that it's a choice, and that failing to provide them is okay. I'm not prepared to say that, and I'm hoping that you're not either."

Estela Ortega, director of El Centro de la Raza, urged council members, "Please do not put yourselves in a position to make the job crisis worse, by impacting and making it difficult for people to get to work and for those seeking employment opportunities."

And Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce VP George Allen, speaking alongside Futurewise staffer Brock Howell, called the vote "an issue about our quality of life. ... If [the bus system] is eroded, so will the support from the employer base."

The council will vote on the proposal after public testimony concludes this evening.
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