One more time: Another $30 car tab measure bound for ballot

Foes say Eyman’s latest initiative would force deep cuts to bus service and light rail projects.

OLYMPIA — It looks like voters will get to decide if they want to cap car tab fees at $30 and eliminate critical sources of dollars for transportation improvements in cities and expansion of Sound Transit light rail.

On Thursday, initiative sponsor Tim Eyman of Mukilteo delivered the last batch of signatures for Initiative 976 to the Office of the Secretary of State. He said he was turning in 352,111 signatures for this latest attempt to set a flat rate for vehicle registration fees paid to the state.

Eyman was joined by Jack and Mike Fagan of Spokane, his longtime political partners. The three men are leaders of Voters Want More Choices, the political committee pushing this measure.

They need 259,622 valid signatures of registered voters to earn a spot on the November ballot. The Secretary of State recommends turning in at least 325,000 signatures to account for duplicates and invalid ones.

Initiative 976 is a proposed initiative to the Legislature, which means if it qualifies state lawmakers could adopt it as written. That’s unlikely because Democrats, most of whom oppose Eyman initiatives, are in control of the House and Senate. Lawmakers could put an alternative measure in front of voters though that too is not expected.

If that were to happen, Eyman said it would give voters another shot this fall to express their desire to limit how much they pay to register vehicles.

As proposed, the measure would cap car tab fees on passenger vehicles at $30 and eliminate the 1.1 percent in excise taxes approved by voters to fund Sound Transit light rail projects. This includes the increase that voters approved in 2016 to help pay for bringing service to Snohomish County.

The initiative also calls for axing vehicle fees charged by cities through transportation benefit districts, a move that would affect Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls and Lynnwood.

Eyman failed to qualify similar measures in 2016 and 2017.

Opponents are already organizing. They contend the measure will cut off critical funding for bus service and transportation improvements in cities and counties.

Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, on Thursday highlighted sections which would wipe out funding counted on by Sound Transit to finance expansion of its light rail and bus rapid transit service in Snohomish and Pierce counties.

If it qualifies the measure would be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

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