Mayor Murray Wants to Re-Run Proposition 1 in Seattle to Save Metro
by Ansel Herz
on Tue, May 13, 2014 at 12:19 PM
You'll recall that Proposition 1, a sales tax and license fee combo to raise funding for King County Metro, failed at the ballot across King County in April. In a press conference this morning, Murray confirmed what we already knew: he wants Seattle voters, who approved Proposition 1 by an overwhelming margin, to vote on Prop. 1 on their own in order to save our Metro service.
Murray's plan will go before the Seattle Transportation District Board, which has until August 5 to refer it to the November ballot.
Under the plan, a $60 license fee and a 0.1 percent sales tax increase would raise $45 million—$15 million more than the revenue generated by last week's rival property tax proposal. Ben Schiendelman and his rebel group of transit advocates have suspended signature-gathering for that initiative. Schiendelman says he's "not sure" if any of the city council members will take up their proposal.
Murray, meanwhile, surrounded himself with a crowd of liberal establishment figures this morning, including King County Executive Dow Constantine, state lawmakers Jamie Pedersen, David Frockt, Joe Fitzgibbon, as well as a majority of Seattle City Council members, including Tim Burgess, Tom Rasmussen, Sally Clark, Jean Godden, and Sally Bagshaw. "I'm pretty confident this will pass," Burgess told me.
$3 million of the revenue from the plan would go into a Regional Partnership fund to shore up routes that cross into other cities and $2 million would establish a $20 low-income vehicle fee rebate. Additionally, the mayor plans to reallocate existing funds from Seattle's Department of Transportation to retain Metro's night owl routes, which are critical for night-shift workers who would otherwise be stranded.
The core of everyone's argument here is that this is the safest option. The state won't fund Metro, the cuts to bus service would be intolerable, Seattle voters already approved this flat tax plan once, so let's do it again. And it won't conflict with any other initiatives that could rely on property tax increases, namely universal preschool (although there is technically room for both). Burgess, who has made universal preschool his thing, told me he personally lobbied Murray against using property taxes to fund Metro. Apparently, he got his way.