Minor gas pains will relieve major headache

While drivers feel it at the pump now, a crumbling infrastructure will be more costly in the long run

"The legislature went too far," according to the signature gatherer with the armful of petitions. They continue whether you are listening, "The 9.5 cent increase in the gas tax is hurting families and businesses." "The gas tax is just another example of the legislature ignoring the will of the people." There is never any mention that less than a third of the 9.5 cent increase is currently in effect or that it is to be phased in over the next four years.

Apparently, the projects are acceptable to the supporters of Initiative 912. Their argument is the financial effects on families and that, simply, the fewer taxes, the better. If the projects are acceptable, who better to fund them than those who will benefit most: drivers. The fact is, in the end, the negative effect of a seriously deteriorating transportation infrastructure will be more costly than sixty cents ($.60) more for 20 gallons of gas today or $1.80 more when the tax is fully levied in four years.

Yes, a large amount of the initial funding will be spent to replace the Seattle viaduct. Like it or loathe it, Seattle is the largest commerce center in the Northwest and it is in our best interest to keep commerce flowing through it. State funding of the viaduct project will, in the end, benefit all the residents of Washington State as will a new or improved Columbia River Crossing.

Government by referendum and proposition has had a strangle hold on the state of California since the infamous Proposition 13 which eliminated the government’s ability to raise assessed values on real estate and thus capping the amount of taxes to be collected. Consequently, California highways and freeways are littered with potholes big enough to swallow a Mini Cooper, bridges and roads only passable in one lane, and deferred maintenance on major bridges and freeways with no foreseeable budget to fund it. But it has taken a graver toll on the people of California. The elimination of the property tax forced a reallocation of funds – some roadwork has to be done and the money had to come from schools, social services, and fire and police services.

More than $250 million of this statewide tax is dedicated to critical transportation infrastructure projects in our region. We must have the support and funding for these projects if we are to support the growth we’ve been enjoying or to attract the living wage jobs we need. Without it, the economy will drain as certainly as your gas tank as you sit in traffic backups getting across town and trying to cross the Columbia. Vote no on 912.

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