If there's one thing that really pisses me off about Washington State politics, it's the way rural Republicans bitch about spending state money in Seattle: "If [Seattle] wants the tolls so low that it only generates $165 million," state Senator Curtis King (R-Yakima) complained about recent Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel tolling projections, "then they can help us replace the additional monies that we're losing."
Uh-huh. And you know what monies I'd like Yakima to help the state replace? Let's start with the $2.6 million a year Yakima receives under the sales tax credit for rural counties. This is a credit in which 32 "rural" counties keep 0.9 cents of the 6.5 cent state sales tax collected within the county. Combined, the credit cost the state almost $25 million in 2011 (more than enough to close the funding gap on the tunnel).
That's right, the state sales take rate in rural counties is actually only 5.4 percent. The 0.9 percent goes straight into county coffers. Sweet.
But rural counties like Yakima don't just send less money to Olympia, they also get more of it back. As I've previously reported, a Yakima lawmaker like King is the last person to complain about the regional allocation of state monies, coming as he does from one of the biggest welfare counties in the state. According to 2008 data from the Office of Financial Management, Yakima County receives back $2.24 in state funds for every dollar it sends to Olympia, a wealth-redistribution-windfall third only to Lincoln and Ferry counties.
By comparison, King County, with roughly 29 percent of the state population, produces 42 percent of state tax revenues, yet receives back less than 26 percent of state benefits. That's a return of only 62 cents on the dollar for our state's Democratic stronghold.
Throughout the state and throughout state history, the bulk of our state roads have been paved courtesy of state and federal dollars—which means that taxpayers here in King County have picked up the lion's share of the cost because, you know, this is where most of the fucking money is. So when Senator King complains about a "Seattle-centric" tolling commission somehow screwing the rest of state, well, I've got zero sympathy.
Note to Yakima: We carry you. And we generally do it without complaint, because we're all one state and it's the right thing to do. BUT WE CARRY YOU. And all we ask in return is that you don't throw a fucking hissy fit every time the state spends a little cash in Seattle.