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Tim Eyman on confronting Gov. Inslee over car tab escrow account

Two gubernatorial candidates — incumbent Governor Jay Inslee and Initiative 976 sponsor Tim Eyman — went head-to-head over the $30 tabs initiative that was approved by voters but has been held up in a courtroom by politicians.

Though I-976 passed by a six-point margin, city, county, and state politicians in the Puget Sound immediately declared it a danger to necessary transit and road funding. A lawsuit was shortly thereafter brought against the initiative, with the City of Seattle and King County among the plaintiffs.

In the meantime, the government has still collected car tab funds at the current rates.

In a statement to voters in November, Governor Inslee promised to put the state portion of the car tab revenue collected in an escrow account so that it could be held in place and refunded to taxpayers if 976 is upheld in court.

Bellevue attorney highlights problematic features of the 976 suit

Eyman said that many of the people he has talked to have mistakenly believed that all of the revenue is being held in escrow. For example, if they paid $600 for tabs, they have told Eyman that they believe $570 is in an account.

“He’s purposely misleading voters and not giving them the full story, because he’s basically not doing what the voters want, which is implementing $30 tabs,” Eyman said.

He contends that Sound Transit and local transportation agencies are still spending the car tab money that they collect.

“You’re not paying $30 because Jay Inslee refuses to listen to you and introduce a bill to adopt the $30, rather than sitting around waiting for a court to decide whether you were confused or not … Jay Inslee could fix it tomorrow simply by doing what Gary Locke did 20 years ago,” Eyman said to voters.

Eyman confronts Inslee over escrow account

When Eyman asked Inslee multiple times Thursday morning at a press conference if all the tab money was in escrow, Inslee did not answer.

“He refused to answer the question — instead, he let everybody just swarm all over me not to ask a question,” Eyman said. “A regular citizen in a public building couldn’t ask the governor a simple question.”

Inslee can be heard in the video asking Eyman to take a seat, quipping, “You need to sit down, just don’t steal that chair.” The line was a reference to Eyman taking a swivel chair out of a Lacey Office Depot without paying for it last year.

Dori joked that as payback for the questions going unanswered, Eyman should have taken the government chair. Eyman admitted he was already “on thin ice” for playing “Hail to the Chief” on his phone as Inslee walked into a press event last year, when the Washington governor was running for president.

The I-976 lawsuit

Meanwhile, the lawsuit against I-976 is being heard in the King County Superior Court — even though King County is one of the plaintiffs in the suit. The court will release its decision early next month.

“The real genesis of the corruption was Bob Ferguson not moving this thing out of King County,” Eyman said.

He filed a new lawsuit in Thurston County that is scheduled to be decided on Jan. 31.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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