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Voters: please point out the route to the future

OK. The voters have spoken. By a comfortable margin citizens supported I-976, reducing car tab fees to $30 and not allowing local jurisdictions to tax themselves for transit this way.

The majority of people in the state are saying no to taxes and no to heavy handed Olympia legislators. Yes, the formulas and pots of money that must be created for generating funds for preparing Washington’s ever increasing and complicated transportation infrastructure through the 21t century is as convoluted as Seattle’s roadways at rush hour.

Do you know that our state has the third largest ferry system in the world? There are more ferries and ferry passengers here than Greece, Indonesia or the Philippines.

But people aren’t thinking of nearby islands with large populations needing to get to the mainland. No, they voted no because they had a chance to say no to taxes. That this tax was unfair is also a valid issue.

The long term, deepest, most fundamental issue is the terribly regressive nature of the state’s tax system. The 1935 5-4 state supreme court decision striking down an income tax and finding income to be “property” is at the heart of the issue.

That, and to this newcomer, the culture that has grown up in this state vilifying income taxes so that by ever increasing margins the electorate votes down income tax proposals, is just the strangest thing. Progressive taxation is objectively fair. People voting against their own interests is baffling.

Don’t get angry at the supreme court if it rules I-976 unconstitutional. The state constitution plainly states only a single subject can be proposed at a time. Tim Eyman bundled reduced license fees with indexing rates to the Kelly Blue Book with denying local jurisdictions the choice to create taxes for transit.

That is self-defeating. Maybe Eyman crafts these initiatives to get people riled up in response to deep state rulings that unconstitutional initiatives are unconstitutional. The justices are just doing their job, but people may see it as an inside job and lose trust in the system. That would be sad, and tragic.

The system, our beautiful state, increases in population by 100,000 people a year. The population grows on the west side of the Cascades. The right way to move them is with bullet trains and electric ferries. By definition, mass transit means we travel together, en masse.

To some, that looks like socialism. Call it what you will. Common sense is a good term. So is “the future. “ Calling it expensive is also accurate.

But easy to pay for? No way.

 

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