What would I-976 do?
I-976 would significantly restrict our state’s capacity to generate revenue for transportation. Among other reforms, the initiative would limit car tab fees to $30 per year and repeal cities’ authority to levy additional fees through Transportation Benefit Districts (TBDs)—the primary means by which 62 cities across the state fund local transportation improvements.
Why is it important to vote NO?
- Infrastructure: I-976 would devastate our state’s transportation infrastructure. Every county in Washington would be negatively impacted. I-976 would increase congestion, worsen pollution, and derail projects to “fix dangerous highways, retrofit bridges and overpasses, fund transit, expand light rail, maintain ferries, build voter-approved projects, improve freight corridors, and invest in the Washington State Patrol.” It would also jeopardize funds targeted to increase transportation safety and access for our most vulnerable populations: seniors, veterans, youth, and people with disabilities.
- Budget Deficit: The passage of I-976 would create a $4 billion state transportation deficit over the course of the next ten years; over $620 million would be lost for cities depending on TBD funds. Addressing this shortfall would consume funding, energy, and efforts that would otherwise be spent on addressing pressing issues like housing, healthcare, and education.
- Equity: Transportation is an issue of equity. A longitudinal study of upward mobility conducted by Harvard University identified “time of commute” as the “single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty”—even higher than crime rates, elementary test scores, or rates of two-person families. As Seattle continues to grow, gentrification displaces people of color and low-income residents, pushing them further out of the city, further away from services and work, and further away from financial stability.
What is the impact on young people experiencing homelessness?
Public transit is especially critical for young people experiencing homelessness. Lack of reliable transportation makes it difficult for young people to access healthcare, education, and employment. Moreover, transportation barriers contribute to homelessness: 18% of all respondents in King County’s 2019 Point-in-Time Count indicated that transportation would help them obtain permanent housing; 28% identified transportation as the biggest barrier to accessing community services. For youth, the number was even higher: 33% cited transportation as a barrier.
I-976 would hamstring the 2016 voter-approved Sound Transit 3 (ST3) package, which significantly expands light rail, rapid bus transit, and commuter rail across King County, Pierce County, and Snohomish County. The Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA), a component of ST3, was intended to address education inequities for youth-at-risk. The account, which King County Council recently approved, would go toward expanding early learning facilities, K-12 programs, and post-secondary access for youth in foster care, juvenile justice, experiencing homelessness, or otherwise at-risk. PSTAA—among the various other projects in jeopordy—would likely be eliminated by I-976.
While the I-976 might benefit car-owners, it would do so at the detriment of our environment, our public transit infrastructure, and our state’s most vulnerable residents. Say NO to Initiative 976!