O’Ban: Liias bill to repeal I-976 is an insult to voters

Legislation thumbing its nose at taxpayers should be called the “Sound Transit Dream Act”

 

OLYMPIASen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, issued the following statement about a bill just dropped by a Seattle Democrat that repeals I-976 as it applies to Sound Transit car tab fees and changes the law to allow the Washington State Department of Licensing to continue using an artificially high valuation schedule – instead of one based on the fair market value of the vehicle.

I-976 passed statewide in November, and overwhelmingly in Pierce, Snohomish and other counties, it passed by more than 60 percent. Because of the excessive Sound Transit fee, Pierce County residents have paid anywhere from two to four times the amount they paid the year after ST3.

“This bill should be called the ‘Thumb Our Noses at the Taxpayer Act’ or the ‘Sound Transit Dream Bill.’ I can’t decide which, but both are accurate.”

“Recently, the Supreme Court found that the Department of Licensing was using the wrong valuation in charging people for their car-tabs – not the one required by law under ST3. This error contributed to taxpayers being overcharged.  This bill doesn’t fix that by basing the fees on Kelley Blue Book value, which takes depreciation into account.”

“First, the Superintendent of Public Instruction calls for the governor to punish counties who passed I-976. Then the governor suspends projects that get zero funding from car-tabs. Then, the majority party sponsors a bill to cut off the right of the people to repeal bad legislation or enact new laws in odd number years. And now, with this bill, they are disregarding all those votes. The message to Washingtonians appears to be, ‘Your priorities are not our priorities. ’ By contrast, my bill, Senate Bill 6245, enacts the will of the people and would codify I-976, while backfilling the lost funding from the initiative.”

For the past three years, O’Ban has led the effort to bring car-tab relief to the counties that were subjected to the exorbitant Sound Transit fees. During that time, O’Ban warned his colleagues in the Legislature that if they didn’t do their job and pass relief, voters would take action through the initiative process. He predicted such a response would result in a bigger impact to state revenue than the 55-percent cut to the Sound Transit portion of car-tabs in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties that his legislation would have enacted.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Liias would do the following:

  • Repeal multiple sections related to I-976 and the Sound Transit share of the car tab tax reduction. Would require 2/3 vote to do so.

 

  • Reinstate RCW 82.44.035 (the 2006 MVET schedule), which was the MVET schedule contingently repealed by I-976. Would also require a 2/3 vote.
    • Makes it so Sound Transit must use the current 2006 schedule for their MVET calculations.

 

  • Amend the newly reinstated RCW 82.44.035 to more reflect the 1999 MVET schedule.
    • In the ongoing court case, Sound Transit repeatedly stated it uses a 1996 MVET depreciation schedule for its 1999 bonds. In fact, they use a schedule implemented in 1999.
    • This change would take the current 2006 schedule and align its depreciation schedule for older vehicles to resemble the 1999 schedule.
    • Note: While it does change the current schedule to better reflect the 1999 schedule, the 1999 schedule uses the same percentage for older vehicles as the 1996 schedule. The discrepancy between 1996 and 1999 is only on the percentage used for years two and three.