Anyone who’s driven near or through King County knows that automobile traffic congestion is a major issue in this state. Unfortunately, the current leadership at the WA State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)—political partisans, appointed by the current Governor—have stated plainly that relieving traffic congestion is NOT an agency priority. Instead, that leadership is chasing hare-brained schemes for European-style “mass transit” that do nothing but waste taxpayers’ dollars.
This will change!
State transportation policy—and WSDOT’s marching orders—need to focus clearly on two priorities:
- allowing Washington’s people to move quickly and comfortably from where they live to where the work, shop or run essential errands;
- allowing Washington’s businesses to move their workers, goods and services efficiently and cost-effectively around the state, around the nation or around the globe—as they choose.
That’s really it. We don’t need to clog WSDOT’s mission statement with gobbledygook about global politics and “social justice.” (Right now, WSDOT offers that stuff as its top priorities. See for yourself at the agency’s web site: wsdot.wa.gov.)
As I’ve mentioned before, the state’s Transportation Budget has seen some good, bipartisan reforms in recent years. This is a hopeful sign—for its particular needs and for Olympia budget-writing, in general.
Faced with a projected $450 million shortfall in its regular two-year budget during the 2020-2021 cycle, legislators on the Senate and House Transportation Committees were able to use “programmatic” budget adjustments to make up the shortfall. These adjustments were more tightly focused and targeted than crude “across-the-board” cuts. The legislative budget writers did the hard work for reviewing thousands of line items in the Transportation Budget, ranking them by type and importance, and making adjustments according to that ranking.
Doing that hard work, the Transportation Committee legislators were able to undo the damaging “freeze” that the current Governor had placed on ALL state Transportation infrastructure projects.
We need to move away from the current Governor’s destructive approach to negotiating budgets. As Governor, I will work cooperatively with the legislators on budgets and budget adjustments. One of the bad side effects of “freezes” and “across-the-board” cuts is that they make infrastructure projects MORE expensive when they’re eventually resumed.
By cooperating more constructively with the legislative branch, I believe I will be able to accomplish more infrastructure improvement, most cost-effectively for taxpayers, than the current Governor has done with his childish budget tantrums.