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$30 car tabs initiative maintains lead in latest vote tally

Car tabs. (MyNorthwest photo)

Initiative 976 — to cap car tabs at $30 — has maintained a lead (55% approved, 45% rejected) in a second round of vote tallying on Wednesday.

King County Executive begins preparing lawsuit to challenge I-976

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If it passes, I-976 would cap car tabs for regular and electric vehicles and snowmobiles at $30, and would end a 0.3 percent sales tax tacked on to new car sales. The restriction is estimated to result in approximately $1.9 billion in losses for the state transportation budget over the next six years.

“Initiative 976 would wipe out over $4 billion in state, regional, and local transportation funding over the next six to 10 years,” described Andrew Villeneuve with the Northwest Progressive Institute. He was citing the new fiscal impact numbers from the Office of Financial Management.

The Northwest Progressive Institute leads the “No on I-976″ campaign.

Eyman told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show on Monday that 352,000 people signed the petitions to put the decision to voters.

The No on I-976 campaign has nicknamed the initiative “Tim Eyman’s Initiative,” possibly in an attempt to remind voters that the initiative is sponsored by someone who allegedly stole an office chair from an Office Depot in Lacey, among other things.

“Whether it’s Mother Teresa or Lucifer who’s sponsoring it, it really doesn’t matter — is it fair to tax a $10,000 vehicle like it’s worth $25,000, and is it okay for Sound Transit to promise that your car tabs would only go up $80, but you get a bill for $300, $500, $800 more?” he said. “And if you think that’s okay, then this initiative is not for you.”

Impact on Sound Transit

Sound Transit estimates a $20 billion impact through 2041, if the measure passes; the combination of collecting $6.95 billion less in car tab revenues and shelling out $13 billion more in higher interest costs in future transactions. Officials also forecast being forced to delay or cancel various transportation projects.

Car tabs typically pay for everything from sidewalks to various public transit options. Villeneuve noted that places like Seattle also use vehicle fees to expand neighborhood bus service.

Seattle council pushes back against $30 car tabs initiative

For Sound Transit, 0.2 percent of an 0.8 percent increase sales tax, approved by voters as part of ST3, would be allowed. They would also have to stop using a 1990s-era depreciation schedule to calculate a car’s excise tax, which overvalues vehicles. It would instead base it on Kelley Blue Book values.

Sound Transit would also have to retire, defease, or refinance bonds it has issued against the car tab tax, which fiscal estimates say may not even be possible.

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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