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Sen. Fortunato: We want our money back from ST3

Crews working on what will be the Northgate light rail station. (Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio)

Sound Transit faces a class-action over its license tab fees.

Sen. Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn) of the 31st Leg. District told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that the light rail giant has been using a repealed vehicle-valuation schedule to illegally over-tax people’s license tabs.

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“We’re saying, ‘If the thing was illegal to begin with, the law is invalidated; we want our money back,'” Fortunato said.

Sound Transit has said that it will not be able to follow-through with its projects if it has to pay back millions of dollars, but in Fortunato’s eyes, abandoning 2016’s $54 billion light rail plan ST3 would be a “godsend.”

“I believe that you can’t solve a 21st-century problem with 19th-century technology,” he said. “Transit can never reduce congestion, because if it did reduce congestion, people would then drive, because the roads wouldn’t be congested.”

Fortunato said that he already has legislation to deal with the problems that could be incurred by Sound Transit having to give up some of its pipeline projects. The senator’s plan would include giving people a second chance at approving Sound plans.

“No more new projects, whatever projects you do have, we’ll spread that out … we’ll change the schedule, the amount of taxes would be a lot less … and if they want, they’re gonna have to do another Sound Transit 4 to extend it,” he said.

Fortunato said that according to polls he has seen, ST3 wouldn’t pass if it were on the ballot again — in fact, even the population of Seattle voters would not approve it.

“The taxpayers deserve another way, and certainly we deserve a way to opt out,” he said.

Fortunato pointed out that 65 percent of his district voted against ST3. All that his district received from the light rail plan, he said, is a parking garage in Sumner.

“That’s what we get for $54 billion,” he said.

For now, Fortunato believes the suit will end successfully and that his plan for revamping Sound Transit’s schedule will be on the floor of the Senate next session.

“Whoever you elect this November and send to the Legislature, they would have to vote on a Sound Transit fix,” Fortunato said. “So the question that comes in is, who are you gonna elect? Are you gonna elect people that are in the back pocket of Sound Transit, or people that are gonna represent the taxpayer?”

 

 

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