Dori: Congestion pricing vote will be taxation without representation
You and I must stop the financial tsunami of tolling every single road in this region through congestion pricing.
Jenny Durkan has declared that she wants to toll Seattle’s streets before the end of her first term in 2021. That lines up perfectly with the 20-year timetable that I told you about in 2001.
This would be a massive tax increase on you and me, designed specifically to hit the working class of this region the absolute hardest. It would be a crushing blow for those in the suburbs who can’t afford to live downtown and have to drive in every day.
But those people, the people who will be most affected, will not get a vote. The working class of Snohomish and Pierce Counties, of suburban King County, will be absolutely crushed by this.
At first, those in power told us it was just a per-mile tax to replace the gas tax. That’s one of the massive lies they’ve been telling us. The Seattle Department of Transportation website specifically says that this is designed as congestion pricing. One of the numbers I’ve heard is $20 to drive into Seattle.
Let’s think about this for a minute. Say you’re a working-class person living in Marysville or Kent. You had to buy a house in the suburbs because you cannot afford Seattle real estate. You have a long commute to get to work in the city every day; your sacrifice is your time. This isn’t just about office workers — many janitors and food prep workers commute in from out of town. Some commuters, such as construction workers, have to take tools and equipment in their panel vans with them.
Unlike other large metropolitan areas, we don’t have mass transit that takes care of suburbanites getting into the city. If you are a suburbanite with kids and you are trying to be active in their lives, you don’t have the option of taking a two-hour bus ride with transfers. So five days a week, you pay $20 to get into the city. That adds up to $100 a week, or roughly $5,000 a year. That’s a $5,000 transfer from your family to the people behind this program.
SDOT says that they hope this will increase use of mass transit. Our current mass transit system does not, in any way, fit the lifestyle of people who live in the suburbs or rural areas. It won’t make a bit of difference for them, other than to take a massive bite out of their wallets.
According to The Seattle Times, the congestion pricing program would be modeled off of cities like London, Stockholm, and Milan. European cities like these have fully built-out transit systems. You cannot easily take mass transit from Snoqualmie to downtown Seattle. You can’t just hop on a subway for those 30 miles. So when we have no infrastructure to take care of those suburban people, it’s either an incredibly stupid plan, or an evil transfer of money away from the working class. You pick which.
Ultimately, they want a transponder in every vehicle. The plan is to implement congestion pricing not just in Seattle, but in every road throughout the Puget Sound region. It’ll cost you a fortune during morning rush hour to go into Seattle. It will be thousands of dollars a year per family transferred to government. It will not be a gas tax replacement — that is simply a lie. It would be the most massive tax increase in the history of our state.
Again, this will initially be voted on by people who live in Seattle, who never say no to a tax increase. Seattle is dominated by people who want big government. But the people most affected will not get a say. This is going to be taxation without representation — unless we can mobilize to fight it.
A $200,000 congestion pricing study alone was four months behind schedule. Imagine what the mess of implementing these tolls would be. Imagine the level of bureaucracy, the number of six-figure jobs, that will be needed to redistribute this money as they collect it from working parents. The revenue will supposedly be spent on transit and bike projects. So they’ll tax families thousands of dollars today that will be used for improvements 20 years in the future, maybe after these people are done working and commuting. What a good investment for the people.
You and I must and can stop congestion pricing. But it will be challenging because Seattle is going to try to impose it on all of the surrounding region. It will be a financial nightmare.