Come November, will Seattle residents actually vote for a tax increase for buses?

By Neal McNamara | May 14, 2014
KingCountyMetro_4191

According to the results of the failed Proposition 1 transit ballot proposal, Seattle residents are absolutely head over heels in love with paying higher taxes and car tab fees to fund their cherished buses.

We’ll see how far that love goes now that Mayor Ed Murray has proposed even more taxes for buses.

Murray, doubling down on those Prop 1 results, has proposed a car tax hike and a sales tax increase for Seattle residents only to fund more King County Metro bus service.

Host Ben Shapiro wondered whether Seattle residents would balk at paying a bunch of new taxes for buses, especially if they don’t ride the bus.

On Tuesday, Murray announced his fix for transit funding. He’ll put a measure on the November ballot asking for a $60 car-tab fee, plus a 0.1 percent sales tax increase. The measure would raise $45 million per year for transit, $40 million of which will actually go toward buses. A remaining $3 million would go to the regional fund – route cost sharing with the suburbs – and $2 million would go toward car tab rebates for low-income residents.

Essentially, Murray’s plan provides more government handouts for the poor, and subsidizes a bus system that already loses $2 to $6 per ride and circulates high-polluting, half-empty buses at all hours of the day, Shapiro said.

“I know there’s a campaign that cars are the root of all evil. This focus on we need public transit so let’s spend billions on light rail, let’s spend $45 million more dollars on bus services – you want to take the bus, good for you, enjoy, have at it – why don’t you pay for it?” Shapiro asked, referring to bus riders paying more per ride so that a citywide tax isn’t necessary.

With Murray’s new proposal, Seattle will essentially be buying bus service from King County. Other surrounding communities could follow a similar path, somehow raising money to buy extra bus service. The county estimates that bus lines cost close to $200 per hour to run; only one other community, Lake Forest Park, in King County had a majority vote for Proposition 1.

Murray said the tax would phase out eventually as the city works to make bus services more sustainable. That’s a laughable notion, Shapiro said, because the left has never repealed a tax it installed.

“Once [a tax] is there, it’s there to stay,” Shapiro said.

Host David Boze warned that Seattle is hollowing out its economy by constantly increasing taxes. Murray has said that he’ll seek another tax increase later on to fund universal pre-kindergarten, and there may be another tax increase later to fund city parks.

“You’re going to tax yourselves out of competitiveness,” Boze said. “All these ideas that increase the cost of being in Seattle, eventually that’s going to hollow out the city. Right now, I’m just chalking it up to Seattle wanting to send economic development to Bellevue, Tacoma, and Everett.”

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