County executive vetoes council-passed measure for failing to make deep bus cuts

King County Executive Dow Constantine

SEATTLE -- King County Executive Dow Constantine on Monday immediately vetoed an ordinance, approved by the County Council, that would have reduced Metro bus service less than he had proposed.

"We need a reliable way to pay for bus service – but until then, we shouldn't spend money we don’t have, we shouldn’t use one-time money to pay ongoing expenses, and decisions to save or cut service should be based on objective criteria and data, not on politics,” Constantine said.

“This ordinance falls short on all counts. I must respectfully veto this legislation, and ask that the Council keep working on a solution that is responsible and sustainable.”

Because of a shortage of transportation funding, Constantine had asked the County Council to approve legislation implementing a transit service reduction plan that would reduce bus service by 550,000 hours in 2014 and 2015.

Instead, by a 5-4 vote, the council on Monday approved an ordinance that implements only the service reductions originally proposed for September of this year. The total number of bus routes that would be cut were to be 31, with an additional eight routes altered.

“I heard from the voters in April, and they resoundingly told us that King County and Metro needed to do more work and consider each and every option before asking for additional revenue,” said County Council member Rod Dembowski, chairman of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee and the prime sponsor of the adopted service reduction ordinance. “I put forward this plan to identify additional cost savings, efficiencies and new revenue that can reduce Metro's annual budget gap, and thereby significantly decrease the number of transit service hours that need to be cut.”