Pierce Transits request to be allowed to draw a special district where it could restore some bus service if voters agree to pay a higher sales tax has run into a wall in the state Senate.
Senate Transportation Committee Co-chairman Curtis King is balking at the proposal to let the agency draw a special district where it could stave off some cuts to bus service if voters agree to pay a higher sales tax.
The Yakima Republican said he told the bills supporters: As far as the Senate is concerned, that bill is dead.
Prospects are not looking good either for measures that would let King Countys Metro Transit, Snohomish Countys Community Transit and cities across the state raise new transportation taxes. King says his problem with the Pierce Transit measure is really a more general problem with the local-option transportation taxes: They could leave voters too fatigued to approve a big statewide transportation-tax package.
Not that King is pushing for such a statewide tax increase right now. I just dont think the people of the state are ready to give us more of their money, he said. Like other Republicans, he wants changes to how transportation money is spent before taxes are raised. But he does agree the states transportation grid has major funding needs and worries voters will be less likely to support new taxes to pay for those statewide if they have just seen local taxes go up.
As co-chairman, King can essentially veto any legislation from passing through his committee.
But the Pierce Transit measure could always be revived as part of last-minute negotiations over a transportation tax package if lawmakers were to go ahead with one.
Tacoma Democrats Sen. Jeannie Darneille and Jake Fey were the chief backers of the Pierce Transit measure. Darneille said Tacoma residents who twice voted for an extra three-tenths of a cent in Pierce Transit sales tax, only to see the tax twice go down to defeat in overall voting, should be allowed to restore some of their service.
Darneille said worries about cherry-picking voters helped doom the bill. But she said bringing it forward helped lawmakers outside Pierce County recognize the catastrophic cuts the transit agency has faced.
It was an option worth floating, she said.
Pierce Transit is slated to cut service by another 28 percent this fall starting in September.
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