17% Metro Cuts Next Year? State Senators “Listening” on Monday

RFAMarch_Marching3On Monday, October 14, state legislators will be coming to the First Presbyterian Church on First Hill (1013 8th Avenue) for the Seattle stop of a statewide transportation “listening tour”.

The Senate failed to pass a transportation package this spring, despite an unprecedented two special sessions. The “Majority Coalition Caucus” (MCC), composed of Senate Republicans and two Democrats – Sen. Tim Sheldon (35th) and Sen. Rodney Tom (48th) – refused to let a package even come to the floor for a vote. The transportation package passed by the House included a Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) local option, which would have authorized a public vote on whether to raise new revenue for King County Metro. As a result of the Senate’s inaction, Metro is planning 17% cuts in service to take effect next year.

Now the MCC is leading a “listening tour” around the state, ostensibly to hear what the people want the legislature to do about transportation. Not everyone takes their word at face value. The Transit Riders Union, a democratic all-volunteer group of transit riders fighting for better public transit, asserts that the real reason for the listening tour is to sell the MCC’s right-wing agenda to the public. The MCC ‘s proposals include such “reforms” as gutting environmental regulations, exempting construction companies from paying sales tax, reducing construction workers’ wages and moving toward the privatization of public projects and services.

If the legislature can come to an agreement, Gov. Jay Inslee has signaled willingness to call a special session in November specifically for a vote on a transportation package. Monday’s hearing, which will take place from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, is an opportunity for Central District residents to testify to the need for public transit funding to prevent bus cuts and expand service. The Transit Riders Union and transit supporters will be rallying outside the First Presbyterian Church before the hearing, from 5:00 to 6:00 pm.