Don't impose transit tax without a public vote
The Seattle Times editorial board opposes the proposed $20 car-tabs tax by King County Metro, and insists that any tax proposal be put on the ballot.
THE new normal: an economy that does not bounce back. Big institutions, including King County Metro, have not accepted this reality and internalized what it means. The $20 car-tabs proposal is proof of it.
For some people in today's economy, paying another $20 is difficult and painful. Others could afford the $20, but ask: When does government have enough?
Metro raised its tax rate twice in the past 11 years and has raised fares several times. With the tax increases came promises of extra service. In each case the service was less than promised, and more of the money went into labor contracts. Now the promise is to limit the $20 tax to two years. And then what?
Two years ago, people never would have believed that statewide unemployment would be at 9.2 percent today. But it is. We do not know when commerce, investment and jobs will fully recover.
This is not an economy in which public institutions can be given carte blanche to solve their problems by raising taxes. The private sector has had to adjust. The public sector has to live in the same world.
This is not the opinion of only The Seattle Times editorial board. We hear this from the public all the time.
The politicians know what the public thinks. On Monday, the Democratic majority on the supposedly nonpartisan Metropolitan King County Council delayed a decision on the $20 tax. They had the votes for a tax, but it would have had to go on the ballot. They did not have the extra votes to impose the tax themselves.
The transit lobby lobbied hard not to let the public vote on the $20 tax. So the County Council postponed its decision until Aug. 15.
Thank council members Reagan Dunn, Kathy Lambert, Jane Hague and Pete von Reichbauer for opposing a council-only decision on the $20 and pushing for a solution that includes sustainable reforms at Metro. We hope they stand firm against any proposal to impose a tax without a public vote.