1. Going-it-alone isn't it just for Seattle anymore. Frustration with the legislature's inability to pass a transportation package has the whole Puget Sound region thinking like rebels these days.
As the next legislative session in Olympia starts to come into view, K-12 isn't the only thing that's got people nervous about funding. Late last week, the Puget Sound Regional Council, the four-county board of local leaders that oversees regional planning on economic development, growth management, and transportation policy, lamented the standstill in the legislature over transportation last session, and started floating the idea of a "sub-regional transportation package."
"Our number one goal is to have a statewide transportation package," said Redmond Mayor John Marchione, vice president of the PSRC, "but if the legislature is unable to get there, I think we should be a proponent of a sub-reginal transportation package."
PSCR transportation committee chair Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci picked up the thread, saying there had been "a sense of collective frustration at our inability apparently to get support from our legislators. We do, in this room, have a majority of the legislators in the state ... But the fact that we have been unable to get [the same] traction that we have in the past [she referenced the 2003 and 2005 gas tax increases for transportation funding] has bee disconcerting. So, what is the next step. If we really truly can't have a statewide package?"
Balducci said her Bellevue jurisdiction supports a statewide package, but concluded: "But if that can't happen, then I agree with Mayor Marchione that we should talk about what can we fund for ourselves locally. Sub-regionally, if you will."
"If that can't happen, then we should talk about what can we fund for ourselves locally."—Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci
Balducii proceeded to re-frame the PSRC conversation about their agenda for the upcoming legislative session by suggesting two tracks: 1) Coming up with a balanced statewide transportation package [emphasis hers, referring to the fact that the package needed to be balanced between roads and transit. as opposed to this year's 90/10 roads/transit split] and then 2) "What can we bring forward either during the session or to be prepared to bring forward if they fail at their task again this year?"
Calling it an "If-then" loop, Balducci suggested that the group set up a subcommittee to study a regional approach.
This type of go-it-alone mentality is typically a Seattle meme, but the noteworthy thing about last week's meeting was that the battle cry was being taken up and instigated by the suburban members of the group.
"Something like 56 percent of the voters in the state are from these counties," said PSRC commissioner Dan O'Neal from Mason Couty. "We oughta be able to have some influence in the legislature."
("Yeah, you'd think," Balducci laughed.)
The suburban leaders were clearly taking their cue from Seattle and this month's Prop. 1 which provided $45 million in Metro funding from a vehicle license fee and new sales taxes. "There's a lesson to be learned," said Steilacoom [Pierce County] Mayor Ron Lucas. "Congratulations to those leaders in the city of Seattle on their initiative that they put out. The voters listened to what you were attempting to do. And for all of us that's a lesson on how to do things. So, our idea of 'let us do it regionally' vs. statewide has some merit and that's a good example. Your to be congratulated on supporting your residents and giving them the chance to say 'yes.'"
2. Isn't it Weird that Seattle City Council member Jean Godden was the one member who went out on a limb for Mayor Ed Murray on Friday, defending the mayor's budget proposal for a two-year phase in on the city worker $15 minimum wage increase—while the majority of the council was lining up in favor of a proposal to go with the pay raise ASAP (April 2015).
One of the candidates who officially entered the race last week to defeat Godden in next year's district elections is Murray ally Rob Johnson.
3. Republican state Sen. Bruce Dammeier (R-25, Puyallup) is challenging current state senate Republican leader Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-9, Ritzville) for the top spot.
Dammeier, an education reformer, comes from swing district turf—the 25th just elected a pro-choice Republican in the house (the seat was held by a longtime Democrat). And the other rep, surprise moderate Rep. Hans Zeiger (R-25, Puyallup), was the only Republican to vote for the Democrats' transporattion package.
If education-obsessed Dammeier, who has a more cordial relationship with the Democrats, knocks out the more conservative Schoesler (the rumor on Friday was that he had the votes), there may be more hope for compromise this session.