State Senator Reuven Carlyle said yesterday hes refusing to endorse Sound Transit 3 because he wants the taxes used on education instead.
State Senator Reuven Carlyle said yesterday he's refusing to endorse Sound Transit 3 because he wants the taxes used on education instead. Sound Transit

When State Senator Reuven Carlyle said yesterday he won't endorse Sound Transit 3, the $54 billion light rail measure that will be on your ballot this fall, he thoroughly pissed off the transit advocates who've been pestering him about the issue for weeks.

Carlyle, whose district would get a new light rail line under the plan, argues that instead of using property taxes to fund transit, the state should save those taxes for education instead.

ST3 supporters say that's bullshit. The state legislature, they say, can fully fund public education and allow local voters to tax themselves for ST3.




Robert Cruickshank, a local lefty activist who lives in Carlyle's district, lays out their case at The Urbanist today, arguing that voters "should reject this false choice."

Cruickshank says the state can raise property taxes or turn to other sources of revenue—like closing corporate tax loopholes, increasing the sales tax, or taxing income or capital gains—to fund education. But Sound Transit has fewer options.

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By approving ST3, voters do not prevent the legislature from using the state property tax to fund public education. It is possible that passage of ST3 makes it more difficult for legislators to cut an easy deal regarding the state property tax. But that is a political issue and not a policy issue. It’s hardly the same thing as suggesting ST3 would come at the expense of our public schools. It simply doesn’t.

Unlike the legislature, Sound Transit does not have a wide range of funding options available to it. They only have what the legislature gave them, and that appears on the ballot this fall as ST3. It is unfair to blame Sound Transit and commuters in the Puget Sound region for the legislature’s ongoing failure to properly fund our schools.

Rejecting ST3, Cruickshank writes, would significantly set back new light rail in the region, a result that would be "devastating for our region and for our climate." Read the whole piece here.