Opinion

Why can't they take no for an answer on car tabs?

After Initiative 695 was approved by voters but subsequently rejected by the court, Gov. Gary Locke promised, “$30 license tabs are here to stay.”

A few weeks later, legislators in the House and Senate overwhelmingly agreed with him.

The bill passed 83-13 in the house and 39-9 in the senate — and Locke promptly signed it into law.

Then they moved money around to adjust to its passage, exactly as we predicted.

There was no death, destruction, or end of Western civilization as predicted by the media and 695’s opponents.

The Washington Policy Center documented how wrong opponents were with their aptly named analysis: “Initiative 695 One Year Later: The Sky Didn’t Fall.” (http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/Centers/government/policybrief/01_guppy_i695.html)

In 2002, after citizens had lived for several years with the aftermath of the state Motor Vehicle Excise Tax’s repeal, we gave the voters a chance to revalidate their $30 car tabs decision.

Even though in 35 out of 39 counties citizens were already paying $30 for car tabs, we sponsored I-776, “$30 Tabs: Round 2.”

It not only repealed the remaining state car tab taxes, it removed all local car tab taxes and fees.

“$30 means $30” was the message of the campaign for I-776. It also was approved by voters, despite the proponents being widely outspent by opponents (as usual).

Despite Olympia’s promises and these two clear public votes, car tabs still aren’t $30.

Gov. Gregoire and the Democrats took away our $30 car tabs with several tax and fee increases, and a Ron Sims lawsuit delayed until 2027 the repeal of Sound Transit’s car tab tax.

Earlier this year, there was talk of a new car tab tax to bail out King County’s finances (the Nickels/Sims/Gregoire Big-Dig-Tunnel-for-Seattle project).

But Gregoire quickly reneged on that car-tab-tax-increase deal. Subsequently, Ed Murray, Lynn Kessler and other legislative leaders also backed off supporting higher car tab taxes to bail out King County.

In recent days, it’s being widely reported by the Everett Herald, the Seattle P-I, KOMO-TV, KING-TV and others that some are pushing to bring back state car tab taxes to pay for ferries. But so far, I’ve not seen any legislative support for it.

This jumped off the page from the Everett Herald’s story on it: “‘I see that as the last thing we could ever do,’ said Sen Mary Margaret Haugen, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee.”

Finally, there’s Senate Bill 6900, which brings back car tab taxes with a vengeance. It would tax your vehicle based on its engine size (and even the smallest engines would result in hundreds of dollars per year in higher car tab taxes).

We’re continuing to track its progress and its resurrection.

Will politicians resurrect the hated car tab tax? They’ll try, but when they do, we’ve already got an initiative lined up that’ll not only repeal their new car tab taxes and fees, it’ll get rid of all the current taxes and fees that make car tabs higher than $30 (including Sound Transit’s car tab tax).

Voters are even more supportive of $30 car tabs due to the tough economy, and we’re as energized as ever to bring back our $30 car tabs once and for all.

Tim Eyman is a Mukilteo resident and author of numerous tax-reduction initiatives in Washington state.

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