While the voter-approved $30-dollar car tab initiative remains tied up in the courts, House Republicans in Olympia are preparing legislation that would implement the lower fees and establish a new funding source for transportation projects. The proposal would also prioritize the Washington Department of Transportation – without raising taxes. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast reports from the state Capitol.
SATTGAST: Motorists renewing their car tabs are still paying the higher fees, because lawsuits have suspended Initiative 976, even though nearly 53 percent of Washington voters supported it in November.
Republican Representative Jim Walsh, who serves on the House Transportation Committee, has co-sponsored a bill that would implement most of I-976, including the $30-dollar car tab fees.
WALSH-CLIP1: (:10) ” We are proposing an alternate approach – one in which we can honor the $30-dollar car tabs initiative and not cut any essential transportation projects in the state.”
SATTGAST: House Republican Transportation Leader Representative Andrew Barkis acknowledges that I-976 would result lost transportation revenue. One of his colleagues – Rep. Drew MacEwen – has put forward a solution that would help fill the funding gap. Barkis says the bill would direct sales and use tax revenues from the acquisition of motor vehicles to a new, permanent account for transportation projects – instead of the state’s general fund.
BARKIS: “And this is something that will not only backfill that, but over the course of time, generate a significant amount of revenue for the transportation budget for preservation and maintenance.”
SATTGAST: House Republicans are also recommending reforms that would cut bureaucracy – not projects – at the state Department of Transportation. Their goal is to implement a 10 percent targeted reduction at the agency – without impacting preservation, maintenance and special needs. This, too, they say, would help offset transportation revenue losses.
Walsh says the Republican plan would also make sure transportation projects, which Governor Inslee has suspended, would move forward.
WALSH: “We believe we can get to the full amount we need to make up for the difference in the $30-dollar car tabs without cutting the projects.”
SATTGAST: Barkis adds it’s about respecting voters by setting priorities and putting policy over politics.
BARKIS: “We have a plan that we can definitely uphold the will of the people that say we are tired of having $600 car tabs.”
SATTGAST: The legislation will be in play as the 60-day session begins January 13th.