Eyman’s $30 car-tab initiative headed to Legislature
SEATTLE (AP) — An initiative that would cut car tabs to $30 will go to the Legislature for consideration, according to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s spokesman Erich Ebel said Tuesday that Initiative 976 brought by anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman was certified after collecting enough signatures.
The Legislature will decide whether to approve the lower vehicle registration and renewal fee as written in the initiative, but if it declines, the initiative will go to voters in November 2019.
The Legislature also could write an alternative and put that on the ballot along with Eyman’s initiative.
The measure would stifle Sound Transit, which relies on substantial car-tab taxes to fund light rail and bus service expansion throughout the Puget Sound region.
It also would deal a financial blow to over 60 cities and towns that charge an additional vehicle-registration fee to fund transportation projects.
While voters in the Puget Sound region imposed Sound Transit’s taxes on themselves by repeated approval for Sound Transit ballot measures, Eyman’s initiative would give voters statewide the ability to undo those taxes.
Eyman has said that a statewide initiative is the only practical way to undo Sound Transit’s local taxes, because the Sound Transit district stretches over three counties, The Seattle Times reported .
“Bring back our $30 tabs, baby,” Eyman said on Facebook Tuesday in a post about the initiative being certified.
“Hopefully people recognize this for what it is,” Kelsey Mesher, advocacy director for the pro-transit Transportation Choices Coalition, told the newspaper. “This would affect communities all across the state. The revenue that would be cut funds everything from bus service to park and ride to pretty much any transit, walk or bike project.”
Sound Transit 3, which more than tripled car-tab taxes in the Puget Sound region, passed with about 54 percent of the vote in 2016, as voters chose to fund a massive expansion of public transit.
Since then, voter aggravation over the increase and the way car-tab taxes are calculated has led the state Legislature to attempt to make changes.
Twice, both the state House and the state Senate have passed bills to change the inflated formula that Sound Transit uses to calculate car-tab taxes. But the two houses failed to agree on the legislation, and no changes have been made.
It is the fifth time Eyman has tried, with varying levels of success, to decrease car-tab taxes to $30 by ballot initiative. He said he used paid signature-gatherers, loaning his political committee $500,000 to support the initiative. The committee has spent about $615,000 with $555,000 going to Citizen Solutions, a signature-gathering firm.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Eyman and Citizen Solutions, alleging that Eyman has in the past used money donated to initiative campaigns to enrich himself. Eyman filed for bankruptcy in November as he fights the political corruption charges.
“The opponents of our initiatives always try to make me the issue, but what we’ve learned over the years is what voters care about is what the initiative actually does,” Eyman told the newspaper.