The Commute

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Would you pay more taxes for transportation?

November 21st, 2013 by ed friedrich

Survey results released by the state Transportation Commission show that 60 percent of Washington citizens are willing to pay more for transportation. That must be a different crowd than those commenting on my story today about a transportation revenue package. They were unanimously and graphically against spending another dime.
The Voice of Washington State survey panel got responses from 5,765 people who it says demographically represent the entire state. I got maybe a dozen from commenters who are typically negative and unaware. They didn’t surprise me, but the state survey results did.
It seems people are to the point they don’t want to pay more taxes for anything, good or bad. For others, it’s a political thing. They could be billionaires but don’t believe in paying taxes. I think they’re called the 1 percent.
From that perspective, I’m suspicious about the 60 percent the survey says are willing to pay more, a 9 percent jump from the 2012 survey.
When asked what benefits would justify a tax increase, 78 said preserving infrastructure, or basically taking care of what you’ve got. I don’t know what the other 22 percent were thinking. Just let it all go to hell?
Sixty-one percent said reducing congestion would make the extra taxes worthwhile. That percentage would surely rise if everybody drove the I-5 corridor. What do you suppose President Eisenhower would say if you told him his interstate system would be the slowest way to get around?
Third on the list of reasons people would pay more transportation taxes was expanding transit, at 56 percent. That’s downright unWestern. Here, we’re all about lanes and driving, usually alone. That includes me.
Asked to rate the importance of specific transportation components, 84 percent feel maintaining and repairing existing roads, highways and bridges is important, followed by expanding public transit services (49 percent) and adding or increasing inter-city passenger rail service (46 percent). Again, the last two seem out of character for us, but maybe if I was writing in Seattle or Bellevue it’d be different.
On average, survey respondents gave Washington’s statewide transportation system a C-minus grade. Only 20 percent rated it better than average.

One Response to “Would you pay more taxes for transportation?”

  1. Ken Hovater Says:

    Ed,
    Do you believe that a survey of 5,765 people is truly representative of a state that has a population of 6.897 million (2012 census)? We both know that statistics generated by a survey can be skewed to more closely reflect the answers that whoever is paying for the survey wants to hear.
    Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of room for improvement in our transportation infrastructure, no to mention maintenance that has been deferred for far too long.

    However, the vultures are already circling, with an eye to claiming as big a share as possible for projects that they hold near and dear.
    For example, take three of the stories in today’s Sun. Two have to do with bike trails/ walking paths. The third is the proposed conversion to LNG for six Issaquah class ferries.
    Maybe if funds were line item dedicated, and a few more State residents were allowed input there might be more acceptance of the overall WSDOT/ legislature’s plan.