Whose Transportation Money Is It Anyway?

After Seattle got mad that it wasn't getting its share of the state's stimulus money, it appears the state (or the part of it that's not Seattle) isn't happy that King County gets so much of the gas tax money. This is an old song, of course--drumming up resentment of the greedy urban center (or ungrateful hinterland) plays into all sorts of culture war themes and is good politics.

But the numbers (pdf) don't necessarily back it up. They show King County in the middle of the pack, receiving about a dollar for every dollar it puts in. Prior to the approvals of the 2003 transportation package and 2005 gas tax, King County was getting less than it put in.

One confusing point, though: WSDOT appears to measure gas tax contributions against not only state projects, but also those by the city and county. If those municipal entities are spending their own money on the projects, then the culprit in the disparities might be municipal stinginess/generosity, rather than state favoritism.

Meanwhile, transit supporters have been frustrated with Eastside rep. Judy Clibborn, who they say is obstructing light rail's progress across I-90 and trying to get rail money for roads. (For a fun, super-intense comment thread, check out this post, where Rep. Deb Eddy jumps into the fray with her guns blazing.) Seattle Transit Blog provided a nice history of the many attempts to raid transportation funds, while they and HorsesAss have shifted the blame from Clibborn to the almighty Frank Chopp, who apparently has his sights fixed on a new pricey project (to replace the Choppduct): Option K, or the 520 tunnel.

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