by Kevin Taylor & r & Steve Adams has a conservative streak that belies his ponytail, mustache and goatee. "I just never vote on anything that would raise my taxes," the young northwest Spokane resident says with some force. "Let them work harder to find a solution."
Adams was just the sort of voter backers of statewide Initiative 912 were hoping to reach with their message for ordinary citizens to repeal the 9.5-cent per gallon bump in the state's gasoline tax approved by the Legislature last spring. It's just the kind of appeal trotted out each year, with the latest tax-cutting proposal. The difference is that this time it didn't work -- but just barely.
With 38 of the state's 39 counties reporting, the measure was coming up about 30,000 votes short, with just over 960,000 cast, 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent.
A yes vote on I-912 means no on taxes and vice versa.
The tax hike received bipartisan support from legislators and is expected to raise $8.5 billion in 16 years to fund major road fixes such as the Alaskan Way viaduct and the Evergreen Point floating bridge.
Opponents of the tax hike -- while not disputing Washington roadways are in a gridlocked state of expensive disrepair -- have said the state should find other ways to fund the fixes.
"That's the only one I'm here for," Adams said after voting in the Audubon Park neighborhood. "I'm definitely saying down on that one."
And I-912 was striking a deeper chord with Spokane voters than it was statewide. In Spokane County, according to early returns, the measure to repeal the gas tax was sailing along with 55 percent approval.
Around the state, the push to defeat the initiative and keep the higher gas tax appeared to be in the majority only in western Washington's King, Kitsap, Jefferson, Snohomish, San Juan and Whatcom counties.
"I voted to keep it -- the roads are in bad shape and fixing them would create jobs," said 77-year-old voter Donajeane Bogert after casting her ballot, also in northwest Spokane's Audubon Park neighborhood.
"I voted to keep the tax," says retired South Hill resident Jean Pierre. "I know people here on this side of the state think they won't get their share. But if you've ever driven in Seattle, you know they should do something."