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King County Prop 1 Vote Expected To Be 'Surprisingly Close'

King County Metro bus
Flickr Photo/clappstar (CC BY-NC-ND)

Even before the Washington State Legislature failed to pass a transportation funding package this session, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the county would not wait for the state.

Constantine said King County would go it alone and ask its voters to pay more money for King County Metro Transit and for road projects.

News analyst Joni Balter told KUOW’s Bill Radke that Tuesday’s special election vote is looking “surprisingly close” because voters are not enthusiastic about paying more for their car tabs. She also said voters are skeptical whether Metro deserves their support.

“When [Metro] started this campaign, they said they would have to cut 600,000 hours of bus service, a 17 percent cut,” she said. “But as time has gone on, the economy is a little better, enough so that now it’s going to be a 16 percent cut, and they’ll probably cut 550,000 hours. But Metro didn’t offer that until earlier this week.”

At the same time, voters who are against the measure are acting passive aggressively because it’s "not cool to be against buses,” Balter said. “Nobody thinks there’s a big charm in sending more cars into the city."

If the measure passes, it would mean $60 car tab fees and a 0.1 percent increase in the county sales tax. Prop 1 also includes some help for low-income residents, in the form of a $1.25 bus fare for those who qualify, and a $20 rebate on the car tab fee.

The ballot measure is expected to generate about $130 million per year, with 60 percent going to Metro and 40 percent to local governments.

If the measure falls short, Balter said the cuts would begin in June.

The mail-in deadline is 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22.

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