Huh. Looks like the Seattle Times editorial board pretty much picked up and repeated my central argument against Gov. Gregoire’s “Puget Sound Ferry District” proposal… though not exactly in the same words:
This proposal assumes that Washington residents who live nearer an expensive part of the highway system should pay more of the cost, not counting user fees, than people who live farther away.
If that is reasonable, should the people nearer the bridges over the Columbia River at Wenatchee and Pasco pay for them with a special property tax? Should North Bend, Cle Elum and Ellensburg be put in a special gas-tax district to support maintenance of Snoqualmie Pass? Should Spokane have a penny higher on the sales tax to support the upgrading of U.S. 395?
I would’ve used the word “fuck” a few times, and been condescending to voters in the rest of the state, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so thanks.
That said, when it comes to proposing an alternative for funding the ferry system in the face of a $5 billion state budget shortfall, the Times’ editors turn instead to Alfred E. Neuman for their inspiration:
The state will not be able to do all it wants, and the ferry system will be short. That’s life — and it’s the same problem the other state agencies have.
The ferry system should fight it out for funding, the same as other state programs.
Huh. Unless the Times is proposing that agencies “fight it out for funding” in a steel cage match, and the state sell tickets, that’s not much of a solution. The editorial appears to presume that the ferry system is a necessary state service and that fares already constitute a large enough portion of its operating budget, so to just dismiss its shortfall by saying “That’s life…” well, that’s no solution at all.
I agree that the ferry district proposal is both unfair to the communities the ferries serve, and sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to erosion of broad, statewide support for all state services, but at least the Governor is making an effort to keep the ferries running. Which is more than I can say for the Times’ editorial board.