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WA: Prop 1 grinds to a halt

The loss of Proposition 1 – technically, two ballot measures – on Puget Sound transportation, the Godzilla funding measure, was pretty widely anticipated. We thought it likely too, though the reasons why may be worth some ongoing exploration.

On October 1, we started a post by saying this: “We’re surely not alone in being a bit thrown by the sheer size of Proposition 1, headed for voter decision next month. It’s enormous, but not only that: It’s so enormous, and covers so massive a scope of space and time, that estimates are almost useless.” In fact, the estimates of how much money ultimately would be involved ranged from $18 billion to (admittedly this one sounds unlikely) $160 billion.

The point is that probably few Washingtonians probably felt confident that they had a real handle on exactly what this proposal would amount to. (And the concerns and questions ranged up to pro-public transit figures like King County Executive Ron Sims, with whom this defeat is likely to be closely associated.) Lacking that, a defeat would be little surprise. Was it a vote as well against tax increases? Maybe, but that doesn’t seem obvious as yet, one way or the other.

(Bear in mind that the percentages were decisive but not a runaway – at this writing the percentages against were about 56% to 44% for.)

The larger question, though, is the policy question – what do the people in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties want in terms of transportation? Certainly few probably are happy with conditions as they are; but what should be done? This result doesn’t really offer much answer to that, except maybe that whatever else is proposed to the voters, the details had better be clear.

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