The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dems Plan to Cut Transportation Budget by $146 million

Senate transportation budget would add troopers for 'killer' Highway 2
OLYMPIA -- The Senate set up a conflict with the House over the so-called "killer highway" Highway 2, adding six State Patrol troopers to the stretch of road in their version of the state transportation budget.

Senate Democrats on Monday unveiled plans to cut about $146 million from the transportation budget, ferreting out savings while mostly agreeing with projects pitched by Gov. Chris Gregoire and the state House.

Gregoire and lawmakers from both chambers will soon begin negotiations to iron out differences between the Senate's supplemental transportation plan and the House version, en route to a planned March 13 session adjournment.

Major differences between House and Senate budget writers include the Senate's addition of the troopers on Highway 2. The House budget doesn't include the troopers but calls for rumble strips to be installed and construction of a passing lane between Sultan and Monroe.

Republicans have criticized the House's transportation blueprint as too skimpy on Highway 2 safety. Senate Transportation Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen said the added troopers would give the corridor close to 24-hour coverage -- a presence that she hopes will cause drivers to slow down and improve safety.

Like the House, the Senate found savings in the beleaguered state ferry system, with $5 million cut from unfilled headquarters staffing.

This winter's weather emergencies also drew specific spending in the Senate transportation budget, with about $3.25 million earmarked for extra snow removal in the mountain passes and $3 million to attract federal matching dollars for the aftermath of southwestern Washington's heavy floods.

House OKs its budget

The Democratic-controlled House on Monday approved a new supplemental state budget that boosts overall spending by nearly $300 million, while leaving $750 million in reserve to help deal with expected deficits next year.

Minority Republicans warned that Democrats are wildly overspending, setting the state up for big tax hikes. Democrats conceded that the state is feeling the effects of a national economic downturn, but nothing to get too worried about.

Alluding to biblical plagues, Rep. Bill Hinkle, R-Cle Elum, said the Democrats are setting up the state for seven years of fiscal pestilence.

"We've got to wake up, people!" thundered Rep. Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee. One more bad revenue forecast and the state will tumble into deficits, he said.

The House budget vote, a nearly straight party line 62-33, sends the measure to the Senate, which planned to roll out its own plan today, with roughly the same spending and reserves as the House. Gov. Chris Gregoire and some senators have recommended boosting the $750 million reserve figure.

The House plan would increase the current two-year $33 billion budget by a net of about $297 million and leave $750 million in savings to cope with future economic woes. A big chunk of the reserve would be in a hard-to-tap "rainy day" fund created by voters last November.

Big winners: Teacher salaries, Medicaid, foster care, family planning, housing, lawsuits against the state, long-term care, green-collar jobs and other environmental and climate change programs, and public safety.

Big losers: The 10-year phase-in of free daylong kindergarten would be trimmed during the next school year, expanding to 15 percent of pupils, rather than to the scheduled 20 percent. Other cuts are in WASL testing, health care and other programs.

The articles are posted solely for educational purposes to raise awareness of transportation issues. I claim no authorship, nor do I profit from this website. Where known, all original authors and/or source publisher have been noted in the post. As this is a knowledge base, rather than a blog, I have reproduced the articles in full to allow for complete reader understanding and allow for comprehensive text searching...see custom google search engine at the top of the page. If you have concerns about the inclusion of a specific article, please email for a speedy resolution.