Washington State Senators will be holding a work session today on their latest transportation proposal. The legislature was called back into a special legislative session by Governor Jay Inslee . The proposal, from the GOP-led majority coalition, could be voted on by the legislature by the end of the week.
The Senate package will disproportionately impact people with lower incomes, immigrants, refugees and people of color. It would do this in two ways: 1. It will result in cuts to transit services that people with lower incomes rely on, and 2. It will take funds away from toxic clean-up projects that affect the public health.
Despite raising revenue for transportation, the package would still lead to cuts to King County Metro that threaten transit access for low income communities. Service cuts are detrimental to those for whom public transit is their primary source of transportation to get to jobs, schools, day cares, and grocery stores. These residents are most likely to be people of color and low wage workers.
The proposal will also weaken environmental laws necessary to address public health concerns in communities near toxic waste sites. The Senate proposal diverts $280 million away from a toxic waste clean-up fund to the direct benefit of oil and gas corporations.
The diversion of funds comes at the direct expense of waterways like the Duwamish River. Residents of the Duwamish Valley are predominately low wage workers and people of color. A recent study has already demonstrated that Duwamish Valley residents face disproportionate diesel exhaust pollution. Failing to clean up toxic sites will compound and prolong the environmental hazards which place the health of lower income households at risk.
The package is essentially a doubling down on a failed transportation system that doesn’t adequately provide for transportation alternatives. The $12 billion package will spend less than 2% on alternatives to cars. For more information about their proposal view the proposal’s bills and balance sheet.
The Senate work session will take place on Thursday at 1:30pm in Olympia, Senate Hearing Rm 4 in the J.A. Cherberg Building; Olympia, WA. They will be taking public comments between 1:30-5:30pm.