Inside Opinion

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Tag: Dow Constantine


How many lattes is that new tax?

Here’s a case of deja vu.

The Seattle Times’ editorial about the proposed $20 car-tab tax in King County to fund its Metro bus agency sounds a lot like what we were saying earlier this year when Pierce Transit sought a sales tax increase.

We editorialized in January that PT hadn’t done enough to keep salaries and benefits under control during the recession. And we worried that the tax – which would max out the agency’s taxing authority – would have been a permanent one.

Pierce Transit’s tax went down to defeat, and if the Seattle Times’ editorial is any indication, a new tax for transit in King County won’t be popular there either.

Here’s the editorial. I particularly like the “latte” reference toward the end. Public officials seeking a new tax or increase to an existing one are always framing it like, “It’s the cost of one latte per month.” As the Times notes, those lattes can add up.

King County Metro needs overhaul, not a tax to cover past unsustainable decisions

KING County Executive Dow Constantine proposes an annual $20 car-tab tax to prevent cuts in bus service. The tax, another county official suggested, is only worth the price of five lattes and will last for two years.

We are not convinced. Read more »


The bill comes due for unsustainable spending

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Great Recession has brought a painful reckoning to local governments that seem almost hard-wired for constant spending increases. King County is a spectacular example.

Year after year, the county executive and County Council have routinely adopted budgets exceeding the rate of inflation. With the recession now crimping tax revenues, the bill has come due.

County officials say they’re staring at a $60 million shortfall next year and another shortfall on the same order the following year.

Executive Dow Constantine and Sheriff Sue Rahr are warning that major layoffs of deputies and other criminal justice personnel will be necessary if voters don’t approve a tax increase, which the Republicans on the County Council have so far refused to put on the ballot.

Shades of Pierce Transit, which has been saying it may cut more than half its bus service without new taxes.
This isn’t a suddenly blooming 2010 problem. Even more than Pierce Transit, King County has spent years enthusiastically digging itself into this pit.
Read more »