The state senate transportation committee's proposed budget for 2009-2011 would delay $27 million in proposed state spending to upgrade I-90 for light rail between Seattle and the Eastside (and add HOV lanes on the outer lanes of I-90), where light rail was supposed to open between 2019 and 2021. If the legislature passes a transportation budget without that money, it would delay light rail to the Eastside to 2024 or later. Last year's Prop. 1, which passed overwhelmingly on the Eastside, includes light rail to Eastside cities no later than 2021.

Legislators say the cuts are necessary because less gas-tax money is coming in. In other words: They're cutting transit service because people are driving less. That backwards logic is typical of state legislators on the transportation committees in both houses, who've shown they'll seize on any excuse to defund Sound Transit and funnel more state dollars into highway-building projects.

"There's a lot of hostility toward Sound Transit in Olympia," says Bill LaBorde, lobbyist for the Transportation Choices Coalition. That's an understatement: This year is the first in recent memory that legislators haven't pushed legislation that would have the effect of abolishing Sound Transit entirely, probably because of its success at the ballot box in November.

The proposed budget also cuts back on commute-trip reduction programs, funding for bike and pedestrian programs, and funding for HOV lanes in Pierce County. Despite dwindling revenues, legislators did find plenty of money for megaprojects and general-purpose expansion projects like expanding I-405.