Commentary: Eyman’s back with a measure to undo ST3 and more

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, or go to

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, July 3

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2016 file photo, a man fishes for salmon in the Snake River above the Lower Granite Dam in Washington state. Three Republican U.S. House members from Washington state are criticizing Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., for opposing their legislation that would prevent the breaching of four dams on the Snake River to help improve endangered salmon runs. (Jesse Tinsley /The Spokesman-Review via AP, File)
Editorial: Waiting could force bad choice on dams, salmon

Work should begin now to begin replacing what four dams on the Snake River provide.

Comment: Making our celebration about ‘All Rights for All!’

A trio of 19th-century journalists demanded nothing less than an end to sexism, homophobia and racism.

Comment: Cutting through the haze of FDA’s fight with Juul

The FDA wants to bar its e-cigarettes over a lack of data, but can vaping help adults quit smoking?

Sullivan: Weekly 2 more newspapers close as ‘news desert’ grows

Without a reliable source of local news, false information spreads and democracy falters.

Editorial cartoons for Saturday, July 2

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Dan Hazen
Dan Hazen: Political labels set fight, leave out the middle

‘Conservative’ and ‘liberal’ don’t address each sides’ true motivations and ignore collaboration we need.

Jeremy Steiner: Look again; you might see reason to celebrate

Despite our worries, Americans have a lot to celebrate as the nation marks its 246th birthday.

Joe Kennedy, a former assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Wash., poses for a photo March 9, 2022, at the school's football field. After losing his coaching job for refusing to stop kneeling in prayer with players and spectators on the field immediately after football games, Kennedy will take his arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, April 25, 2022, saying the Bremerton School District violated his First Amendment rights by refusing to let him continue praying at midfield after games. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Editorial: Court majority weakens church, state separation

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision does more to hurt religious liberty than protect a coach’s prayer.

Most Read