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On Other Blogs: Sharing Power, Charging Drivers, and Expanding Transit

Our daily roundup.

By Erica C. Barnett January 10, 2013



 1. In Olympia today, governor-elect Jay Inslee is still insisting he can fill a $2 billion budget shortfall without raising any new taxes, KOMO reports.

However, Inslee did leave himself some wiggle room, suggesting that he would prefer not to raise taxes, and that he still believes cutting tax breaks and improving efficiencies is "the way forward." 

2. Inslee also announced five cabinet heads today, the Seattle Times reports, including two from the private sector.

At a time when President Obama is under fire for selecting an almost exclusively male cabinet for his second term, it's worth noting (which the Times doesn't) two of Inslee's picks so far are women. His Cheif of Staff is also a woman: Dr. Mary Alice Heuschel. As is one of his senior advisors, Joby Shimomura. 

3. The Seattle Times reports on the possibility that the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will start charging drivers by the mile to use state roads and highways. The rationale is simple: As fuel efficiency improves and as people drive less, the state isn't collecting as much in gas taxes as it used to. The per-mile proposal would supplement WSDOT's revenues and allow the agency to pay for repairs and maintenance on a road system that has fallen deep into disrepair in recent years.

Critics (including about 200 Seattle Times commenters, at last count) say that asking people to pay based on how much they drive is unfair—ignoring, of course, the fact that that's exactly what a gas tax (and, for that matter, gas itself) does. 

Some Democrats are expressing an interest in committee chairmanships despite voting to reject the power-sharing deal.

4. Just days from the state of the state legislative session, senate leaders still can't agree on how to divide power on committees. According to the Capitol Record, senate Democrats aren't willing to sign off on a committee plan crafted by Republicans and two dissident Democrats, Rodney Tom (D-48) and Tim Sheldon (D-35), which would give Republicans control of the senate's most powerful committees, including budget, education, and health care. 

"[State senator Ed] Murray said he hopes both sides can 'negotiate a bipartisan way to govern' before the start of session on Monday," the Capitol Record reports. "'We can move forward regardless of some of the complications that exist,' Murray said 'The thing to focus on is the end result.'" 

The Olympian, meanwhile, reports that some Democrats are expressing an interest in committee chairmanships despite voting to reject the power-sharing deal.

5. The Mukilteo Beacon reports that Community Transit in Snohomish County, which has slashed funding for bus service by 37 percent (and eliminated all service on Sundays), says it plans to increase ridership by 25 percent—without increasing service. The strategy, CT says, is to increase productivity on the routes that remain, by increasing the use of double-decker buses, which can hold more passengers, and by focusing funding on routes with higher ridership.

Achieving the goal of better "productivity," however, comes at a cost: People who live on less-popular routes, or who work at night or early in the morning, will lose service. One goal of a transit system is to provide mobility to nearly everyone in a system's service area who needs it. Eliminating less "productive" routes is anathema to that goal. 

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