The following story appears in the Washington State Labor Council’s 2017 Legislative Report published in August.
Conservatives in Olympia say every tax increase should be put to voters. And yet, even when that happens and voters say “yes,” those same politicians often seek to undermine the will of the voters.
Last November, voters in the Puget Sound region demonstrated that they are ready for bold action to expand mass transit, connect people to major employment centers, and reduce reliance on our gridlocked roads. Sound Transit Phase 3 (ST3) was approved by voters to advance critical plans expanding light rail, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit connecting Tacoma, Everett, Seattle, Redmond, Bellevue, and Federal Way.
In February, The Seattle Times reported some owners of expensive cars were experiencing “sticker shock” at the resulting higher car-tab fees. At issue was a formula for valuating the cars—a formula imposed by the Legislature itself and in use since 1990—that sometimes exceeds Kelley Blue Book value.
Senate Republicans pounced. Bills were immediately introduced to lower the valuation formula, undermine ST3 financing and delay its implementation. Hearings were held. Press releases were issued.
This effort to politicize car tabs (again) and ignore the will of the voters was decried by the Transportation Choices Coalition of business, labor and environmental organizations. Democrats demonstrated a willingness to work with Republicans to find a solution that wouldn’t delay the project, but were rebuffed.
The GOP effort to undermine ST3 failed, but expect to see the “car tab issue” in 2017-18 campaign ads.