This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Tim Eyman makes his living selling initiatives, which means he’s got to churn them out regularly to keep his paydays coming. Some have contained the germs of good ideas; others have been folly incarnate.
Initiative 1125, on this year’s ballot, falls under into the incarnate category. It sounds wonderful: a law to protect drivers from unreasonable highway tolls.
Scratch and sniff, though, and it turns out to be a monkey wrench aimed squarely at the state’s efforts to keep cars moving on overcrowded roads.
Its biggest defect is so stupendous that it’s hard to believe Eyman or anyone else in his shop anticipated the impact.
Tolls are commonly used to repay bonds that finance big transportation projects, such as the state Route 520 bridge across Lake Washington. The Legislature – like other legislatures throughout the country – delegates toll-setting authority to panels responsible for making sure the bondholders get the interest and principal they’ve been promised.
If highway projects in Washington started looking like bad loans, private financing for future projects would dry up. Like it or lump it, that’s the way capitalism works.
I-1125 proposes to vest toll-setting authority in the Legislature; its supporters crow about making elected officials accountable for the fees.
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