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Will King County Metro and other budget cuts derail the state's economy?

Downtown Seattle
Downtown SeattleM. Elaine Wilson

There is no question but that looming budget cuts will pose a hardship to many residents, Financial Stability & Sustainability - About Metro - King County Metro Transit. And there appears to be an impasse between lawmakers and voters who feel tapped out or dissatisfied with proposals to deal with the budget shortfall thus far. License tab hikes, increased property taxes or 10 cent gallon increase for the price of gas have previously been rejected yet seem to resurface time and again. So the options to voters appear to be limited and unappealing.

But the long-term and bigger picture also suggests possible risk to the state’s growth and competitive edge, ranging from attracting qualified workers to property valuations.There are definite stakes at hand, especially as all indications suggest the state has been thriving. For example, in the June issue of Fortune magazine, an article by Shawn Tully focused on market capitalization of Fortune 500 companies by state.

Noting a shift in geography representing the Fortune 500, the author goes on to state “overall, nine states – California, Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Nebraska – have truly shined since 1995….The collective market capitalization of companies in the nine leading states has grown an average of 12% a year since 1995, close to doubling the gain (6.6%) for those based in the laggards.” The same issue of Fortune magazine also featured an extensive article on Chicago, where Boeing headquarters is now located and where focus includes infrastructure and transportation.

In July of last year a book excerpt by Leigh Gallagher, “The End of Suburbia: Where the American Dream is Moving”, was also published by Fortune magazine, relating to changes in how Americans live. Basically, fundamental community planning has been changing, along with implications for associated infrastructure and transportation demand, Transportaion and the New Generation. Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy. People no longer appear to want to spend a lot of time commuting to work or home in a vehicle, so living in the city with everything at hand is becoming more attractive.

But in a state where traffic is also rated one of the worst and where extensive transportation projects are underway, it defies logic to understand why or how Metro and other transportation services are not to be funded when they are critical to the health of the economy and state. Yet, the council voted to proceed with some of the cuts as part of a compromise last night (other cuts are coming). What about help from business in the state? For another viewpoint a few suggestions were offered in another article published last month, The Wrong Way to ‘Rescue’ Metro | Sightline Daily. Clearly, the situation with transportation cuts can potentially hurt in a number of ways.