By Tim Eyman
In 1999, voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 695, demanding $30 car tabs.
To stop governments from side-stepping the cap, the people overwhelmingly passed Initiative 776 in 2002, demanding $30 tabs again.
I was thrilled when the state Supreme Court upheld the initiative on all counts. At the time, I told The Herald, “I feel like a 12-year-old girl who just met Ricky Martin,” and the Seattle P-I, “I was screaming so loud that my kids were covering their ears.”
But ever since then, state and local governments have jacked up taxes and fees on vehicles to the point that car tabs are skyrocketing to pre-I-695 levels. Worst of all, Sound Transit lied repeatedly last year regarding the cost and calculation of car tab taxes, artificially and dishonestly inflating them. For months this year, vehicle owners have been screaming at legislators for relief. But Sound Transit and Democrats in Olympia have refused to support any of the Republican bills to actually fix the problem. So we will.
Barnacles have grown on our $30 tabs and it’s time to scrape ‘em off. That’s what our new initiative does:
It gets rid of numerous vehicle taxes and fees imposed by state government.
It gets rid of vehicle fees imposed by cities (transportation benefit districts or TBDs).
And the biggie: It gets rid of all vehicle taxes imposed by Sound Transit.
The arguments for $30 tabs are as applicable today as they were in past campaigns. Even with $30 tabs, we’re already paying more than our fair share to own a vehicle in Washington.
Monthly vehicle payments are a huge part of our family budgets, as is gas, insurance, parking, tires and repairs. We already get gouged with a massive sales tax when we buy a vehicle and a huge gas tax when we use a vehicle. It’s not fair for taxpayers to be gouged a third time with outrageously expensive license fees just for owning a vehicle.
Paying a flat, fair and reasonable $30 per year is more than enough to register our cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, motor homes, RVs, fifth wheels and other vehicles in Washington.
And taxpayers all over the state should take enormous satisfaction that this initiative really sticks it to Sound Transit. They deserve it. Sound Transit has autonomous, unchecked power. They’re immunized by an unelected, unaccountable board. They have no fear of lawsuits because they’ve hired every big law firm. They extensively advertise on TV, radio and newspapers so the media won’t journalistically or editorially challenge them aggressively. They sponsor museums, concert halls, orchestras, operas and sports stadiums with our tax dollars. They are a gargantuan octopus of influence. But a statewide initiative setting tabs at $30? Ooh baby, that’s a wooden stake in Sound Transit’s heart because it allows everyone to vote on an ST3 do-over. And a do-over is absolutely needed because Sound Transit lied.
They lied to the Legislature in 2015, promising a $15 billion tax package but instead inflated it to $54 billion, a deceptive bait-and-switch. That was lie No. 1.
They then lied to voters in 2016 about the cost and calculation of car tab taxes. Voters are shocked by their jaw-droppingly high vehicle tabs because Sound Transit lied. And when government agencies lie, and get away with it, it only spurs other governments to do the same. Our initiative gives voters across the state the chance to reconsider their support for such a deceitful, rogue government agency.
Sound Transit’s puppet politicians are already freaking out. Rather than responding to legitimate outrage over skyrocketing car tab taxes, they’re instead attacking me. Jenny Durkan, frontrunning Seattle mayoral candidate, called me the “village idiot” recently. Name-calling won’t fix the problem. Our new $30 tabs initiative will.
The greatest threat to this initiative’s signature drive is overconfidence. Having qualified 16 initiatives for a public vote over the years, we’ve made it seem easy. It’s not. It’s really tough. The only way we’re gonna make it is with a massive grass-roots effort. We have five months to collect signatures to qualify. The deadline is Dec. 31.
Help me make it happen.
Email Tim Eyman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to VotersWantMoreChoices.com.