Writings and observations

The $900 million ask

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Washington

Some people will probably be calling it the billion-dollar tax proposal – a proposal that taxpayers will be asked to impose on themselves – which may be a small exaggeration but will certainly highlight why the correct number is $900 million.

“Oh, it’s not a billion? Excuse me – you’re right, it’s a mere $900 million . . .”

The ask is for the city of Seattle, whose leading officials including the mayor are the people doing the asking, and which is large and wealthy enough to make it not beyond the pale. And it’s not that transportation needs in the city aren’t great: They surely are.

It’s just that the number is so large it may cause a lot of taxpayers to blanch and decide against it before they’ve even had a chance to look at the large number of things it would do.

Which raises another problem. The list is extensive all right (see the local section in this edition), but so much so that your eyes tend to glaze over.

Then there’s the matter of what it doesn’t include, but will be an overarching consideration during the campaign ahead: Bertha. The mega-machine, that is, still sort of stuck in the ground and falling ever further behind in its effort to create a revised Alaskan Way viaduct.

Anyone seeking to blow the new tax plan out of the water will have only to recite that one name – “Bertha” – to punch the air out of any grand new transportation plans.
Optimism in that whole arena of Seattle transportation is in short supply this year, as it was last. The timing for this thing may be less than ideal, even if the need is demonstrably, yes, quite real.

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