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Sound Transit accused of deceiving voters in new state Senate report

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In a summary of findings and recommendations for the Legislature released Oct. 23, 2017, the Senate Law and Justice Committee says Sound Transit didn’t play fair with lawmakers and voters. It says Sound Transit misrepresented the bill it asked the Legislature to pass, failed to disclose material facts, and disregarded laws designed to ensure full disclosure and prevent taxpayer money from being used to promote political causes. (photo: KVI Staff)

Sound Transit misled voters and the Legislature leading up to last November's vote on a $54 billion tax hike to approve the third phase of light rail service, known as ST3, according to a new report issued by the State Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Committee Chair, Mike Padden (R-Spokane), tells KVI, "This is outrageous." Padden's committee within the Olympia Legislature held several hearings to obtain testimony regarding the Sound Transit 3 campaign--including from Sound Transit personnel.

The report says Legislation granting new taxing authority to Sound Transit was unconstitutionally drafted in a way that concealed its effect. It also concluded, Sound Transit coordinated lobbying efforts by third-party organizations, despite prohibitions on lobbying by public agencies, and Sound Transit improperly used public resources to promote the third-party campaign for the ballot measure.

Padden explained on KVI, "They (Sound Transit) sold this constantly (to the Legislature) in press release after press release as a $15 billion project over 15 years, not a $54 billion project after 25 years, which they extended after the bill (the $15 billion request) got passed. There were a number of legislators, both chairs, Republican chair in the Senate and Democratic chair in the House, (that) said 'hey this wouldn't have passed if Legislators knew we were talking about $54 billion, rather than $15 billion.'"

Padden tells KVI, "Here we have...deception, I don't know what other word to put it."

After the interview, KVI's John Carlson called the report, "a very damning case against Sound Transit for just a pattern--a perpetual pattern--of underhanded dealing with the legislature, with the public and its happening in all (facets)...from the, from the drafting of legislation, to the selling of legislation in Olympia to the selling of the initiative to the voters."

Sound Transit 3 passed by voters in November of 2016 with a 54% yes vote in the urban areas of the Sound Transit taxing district. This link shows which cities did and didn't pass the massive taxing measure.

KVI's Kirby Wilbur suggested the best remedy would be a voter initiative to repeal Sound Transit 3. If that happens, Wilbur said, "we'd have to have a lot of money behind it. Some people have to step up to the plate and put a fair amount of money behind it to get the signatures to either reform or repeal Sound Transit 3."

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