State senators who serve areas within the Sound Transit taxing district say it’s no surprise that new poll results show support for Sound Transit 3 has plummeted 17 points since the November election, when it passed 54 percent to 46 percent. If given a chance to vote again, 51 percent of likely voters would reject the measure and only 37 percent would still vote to approve it.
The turnabout is all the more remarkable given Sound Transit has only been collecting its controversial ST3-inflated car-tab fees since March. With a new batch of letters going out each month, that means three-quarters of voters have yet to receive their new car-tab bills, which have been spurring taxpayer anger.
“These results simply confirm that support for ST3 is collapsing,” said Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place. “We predicted this from what emails, calls, and personal contacts have been telling us. Sound Transit support will continue to plummet as voters open their car-tab bills and experience the shock of this unaffordable tax.”
O’Ban is the sponsor of Senate Bill 5893 – the Senate Republican Car-Tab Relief Bill, which is the only legislation offered this year that would cut car-tab tax rates.
The bill would:
- Slash car-tab taxes in the Sound Transit taxing district by 55 percent;
- Tie car valuations to true market value as determined by Kelley Blue Book or the National Automobile Dealers Association; and,
- Institute a rebate program that would eliminate the need to pay off early bonds tied to the measure. (Sound Transit would still collect more than $50 billion of the $54 billion ST3 package.)
The Senate passed the measure twice, but so far the House of Representatives has failed to even hold a vote on the bill.
According to the poll, which was conducted by Moore Information between May 23-25, 69 percent of voters between the ages of 55 and 64 said they would vote “no” if offered the chance to vote again. Sixty-one percent of seniors 65 and older said they would vote “no.” Similarly, ST3 is highly unpopular with taxpayers forced to pay more on a limited, fixed or low income. For those making under $50k per year, 57 percent would vote “no” if given the opportunity.
“Where’s the compassion?” asked Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish. “Sound Transit Three’s over-inflated car-tabs, sales-tax hikes and increased property taxes all hit our seniors and those living paycheck-to-paycheck the hardest, and those citizens know it.
“The Senate plan is the only one that provides real relief to these struggling taxpayers; yet, House Democrats seem unwilling to put these Washingtonians ahead of their friends at Sound Transit.”
By party, 70 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independents would oppose the measure, which increased the Regional Transit Authority tax paid by many residents of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. Only 31 percent of Democrats said they would vote “no.”
“Sound Transit Three is like one of those free vacations you get offered in the mail,” said Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn. “It’s sold like a bargain trip to paradise until you sign the dotted line and learn that fine print can be hell. If voters in other parts of the RTA think they are upset, they should talk to the folks in my district who pay the tax for no service whatsoever.”
Only the Seattle part of the Sound Transit RTA area still backed Sound Transit 3, the poll found, with voters there supporting the measure 51 percent to 38 percent. However, even that represents a steep drop from the almost 70 percent of voters in the city of Seattle who voted to approve ST3 in November.
“I’m not surprised at all that support for ST3 is plummeting, even in Seattle,” said Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville. “Pierce County voters never wanted it to begin with and they are angry that they have to pay for projects they don’t want and won’t use.”
The intensity of opposition to Sound Transit 3 was also notable, with 44 percent of voters indicating their opposition was strong.
“This will only get worse for Sound Transit,” said O’Ban. “Sound Transit should be embracing my legislation to cut car-tab tax rates and start earning back the trust of the voters. Sound Transit is not going to collapse if it collects 50 billion dollars instead of 54 billion dollars, but taxpayers are suffering real hardship under these sky-high rates.”