About this blog

My name is Bill Hirt and I'm a candidate to be a Representative from the 48th district in the Washington State legislature. My candidacy stems from concern the legislature is not properly overseeing the WSDOT and Sound Transit East Link light rail program. I believe East Link will be a disaster for the entire eastside. ST will spend 5-6 billion on a transportation project that will increase, not decrease cross-lake congestion, violates federal environmental laws, devastates a beautiful part of residential Bellevue, creates havoc in Bellevue's central business district, and does absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion on 1-90 and 405. The only winners with East Link are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions.

This blog is an attempt to get more public awareness of these concerns. Many of the articles are from 3 years of failed efforts to persuade the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, east side legislators, media, and other organizations to stop this debacle. I have no illusions about being elected. My hope is voters from throughout the east side will read of my candidacy and visit this Web site. If they don't find them persuasive I know at least I tried.

Monday, August 8, 2016

How Bryant Can Beat Inslee,

First I want to thank those who supported my candidacy for governor in the Aug 2 primary.   The fact that nearly 50,000 residents chose to support a candidacy whose primary purpose was to expose the failure of ST3 to deal with the area’s transportation problems should be “wake up” call to Sound Transit and their supporters in the media. 

I believe that Bill Bryant can use the failure of the Governor, Sound Transit and the WSDOT to address these problems to attract the support from west of the mountains he needs to win this fall.   First, he should come out in opposition to an ST3 proposal that will spend $54 billion and 25 years primarily on “Prop 1 and beyond light rail” extensions that will do absolutely nothing to ease congestion on the area’s major roadways.  

He should promise to use his office (and the WSDOT Secretary he appoints) to “persuade” Sound Transit to use existing Prop 1 funds to add 100,000 parking spaces over the next five years with free bus rides to Seattle, Bellevue, and Overlake.  Operating cost would be paid for by those willing to pay for an assigned parking space at one of the P&Rs.  Doing so will result in those using transit "paying" for transit rather than the vast majority of those who rarely if ever use it. 

Second, Bryant should promise to appoint a WSDOT Secretary that will end plans to add HOT tolls to any roadway in the state.  Along I-405 between Lynnwood and Bothell the WSDOT should not only end HOT lanes they should open all three lanes to general-purpose (GP) traffic and expedite adding a 4th lane for HOV traffic.  Between Bothell and Bellevue they should open one of the two HOT lanes to GP use. 

Bryant could attract voters from both sides of the state by coming out in opposition to Initiative 732’s plan to tax carbon emissions.   It purports to do the following in Sec. 2. “Findings and Declaration of Policty”:

The people find that reduction of Washington state's high sales tax will increase commerce in this state; reduction of the business and occupation tax on manufacturers will encourage business formation and expansion by reducing the burden of this tax; the implementation and enhancement of the working families' sales tax exemption will provide the benefits expressed at the inception of that program; and the imposition of a carbon pollution tax to fund these actions will establish Washington state's national leadership in addressing both climate change and the acidification of the oceans.

Washington is one of the 45 states that haven’t mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at the state level.  The state did, however, have a goal of reducing emissions to specific levels by a particular year since 2008 when the state legislature passed statutory emissions limits in order to reduce Washington's overall greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020, 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.  The initiative is presumably an attempt to meet those goals. 

In 2011, Washington ranked 28th in carbon emissions nationwide with 69 million metric tons.  If I-732 is passed a $15 per metric ton (pmt) of carbon dioxide will begin on July 1 2017.  It will increase to $25 pmt on July 1 2018 and 3.5% plus inflation each year up to $100 pmt.  At $25 pmt, the 69 million tons will generate $1.725 billion.   While substantial, the state’s budgeted revenue for 2015 totaled $37.6 billion.  Its difficult to believe that the carbon tax could provide benefits anticipated in the initiative. 

While the common perception the way to reduce the state’s CO2 emissions is to use renewable energy to replace fossil-fuel power plants, they only amount to ~7 million tons (11%) in Washington.   “Renewable” hydroelectric power already provides 70% of our electricity.   The major “contributor” in this state is the roughly 60% of carbon dioxide emissions or 41 million metric tons from transportation.  The remaining ~30% comes from Industry (~18%), residential (~8%) and commercial (~3%).

If the carbon tax on all the emissions is the same, approximately $1 billion of the $1. 725 billion will come from gas taxes.   Again at $25 pmt, the tax would range from 20 to 25 cents per gallon depending on whether it was diesel and the amount of ethanol in the fuel.    As the carbon tax increased the contribution to the budget and also the cost would increase. 

It’s not clear how the $1.725 billion will be allocated to meet the initiatives goals.  The initiative did include the following restriction despite the fact that ~$1 billion came from gas taxes.

The proceeds of the carbon pollution tax are not intended to be used for highway purposes and must be deposited into the state general fund.

Again it’s difficult to believe the carbon tax will generate sufficient revenue to reduce Washington state's high sales tax, increasing commerce in this state; and reduce business and occupation tax on manufacturers, encouraging business formation and expansion.   The more likely result will be a huge bureaucracy will be set up to parse out the revenue as they see fit.  

As far as meeting any carbon emission goals, the 69 million metric tons in 2011 was already lower than the 1990 level.  While more recent data may show increases, the 1990 levels have been achieved without the carbon tax.  It’s also unlikely that the I-732 approach of primarily increasing gas taxes to reduce transportation-generated emissions will ever achieve the mandated 25% reduction by 2035.   

I-732 contends “the imposition of a carbon pollution tax will establish Washington state's national leadership in addressing climate change”.   The reality is it’s more the result of Governor Inslee’s effort to promote his stature as a national “leader” against “climate change”.   His purported “environmental expertise” is belied by his support for using huge amounts of the states energy and water resources to convert Canadian natural gas into methanol for export to China.  Why not let Canada do it rather than use our states precious resources?

He and I-732 need to be defeated.  Bill Bryant take heed!

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