Early versions of ESB 6882 6582 authorized a 1% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) for counties to address their transportation needs. It was unclear at the time how this authority was to be shared between County road departments and transit agencies. A full 1% would not only have solved Metro’s long-term deficit, but also would have made a large dent in the State’s nearly-dead promise to allow funding of the transit component of the Deep Bore Tunnel plan.

Martin Munguia at the CT blog has a very helpful update on how this bill has evolved, and it should surprise no one that the possibility of addressing the DBT shortfall has disappeared:

The bill also says that if a county does not impose a local MVET of up to one-percent by December 31, 2013, the transit systems within that county may impose up to one-half of the county’s one-percent, and that a county may waive the December 31, 2013, deadline.

Meaning that if the county waits for a vote or simply decides not to go for a vote of MVET funds by Dec. 13, 2013, the transit agency in that county can seek such a measure for up to 0.5 percent.

The peak annual deficit at Metro is about $60m. A 1% MVET generates at least $100m a year in King County, so a 0.5% rate more or less preserves current service, while doing nothing to address traffic diversion when the viaduct is replaced with the DBT.

The $190m in capital improvements for transit is nowhere to be found. WSDOT recently emphasized what an afterthought the transit is in the “tunnel and transit” plan by finding $200m in the seat cushions to fill a shortfall in the highway budget. It shows that with a little creativity someone in Olympia could solve this problem, but no one seems to care.

If you voted for the deep bore tunnel because there were transit improvements in it, the leaders behind ads like this have played you for a sucker.

Goldy at Slog has more on mechanics of the local vote associated with the measure.

19 Replies to “MVET Bill Develops; SR 99 Corridor Screwed Again”

  1. The image of Paula Hammond finding $200 million in the seat cushions will be stuck in my head all day.

  2. Thanks, Martin.

    I’ve got my ST and IT express schedules for Olympia memorized, and my monthly pass and my e-purse loaded. What do I tell my reps to do when I get there?

    Mark Dublin

      1. Thanks, John. Always do. Don’t mind giving IT some money. I’ve always liked them.


    1. “Spend money on rail and buses, not on the Deep Bore Tunnel which nobody will use”.

      1. Or if you want to focus on this bill, “Let us spend our own money on transit, even if you’re intent on forcing a wasteful tunnel down our throats using state tax money”.

  3. After having lived in W Seattle for about 10+ years now, I am used to transit being sorely lacking. That’s why I converted my commute to bicycle all year round about 6 years ago. I gave up on any sort of convenient, regular, predictable transit service in this area. I’m really not surprised at any transit problems in the south end, especially with the SR99/DBT project.

  4. I don’t know how we convince our fellow Washingtonians of this, but taxes here are too low (especially for the rich). You get what you pay for, and it seems like nobody in this state wants to pay for anything.

    It seems crazy to me that the state won’t even let us tax ourselves. It’s our money.

    1. The taxpayers won’t let us tax our selves. Remember a very reasonable proposal to the voters to modestly tax high income earners was voted down. A modest proposal to mildly tax soda and candy was voted down.

      Washingtonians pay relatively little in taxes and it shows in our crumbling roads (while we continue to build expensive new ones), our nearly last in the nation public schools, and now other essential services are facing gutting.

      The old adage comes to mind, “you get the best government you deserve…”

      1. I don’t have a problem with voters not approving a tax increase, that’s their right. My problem is when a group of voters (WA voters) that are anti-tax that another group of voters (Seattle voters, or King County voters) aren’t even allowed to raise their own taxes if they wanted to. I think increased taxes for transit would do well in King County, and excellent in Seattle.

        Yes, a state income tax would be nice, and I’ll keep fighting for one. But I respect the rights of the WA voters to shoot themselves in the foot. But it seems wrong that they can tell us to shoot ourselves in our feet.

      2. I find it hard to believe Washington’s schools are anywhere near Mississippi’s. In any case, Bellevue and Shoreline have good schools, even if Seattle’s are mediocre.

    2. You can always make a donation to the state treasury is you’re so keen on throwing your money into a bottomless pit.

  5. John Fox has been campaigning against this bill, calling it a “car tab”, to make it sound like it is a flat fee.

  6. Seriously, what is the status of the pertinent legislation. Has the bad bill passed yet, or is it still possible to lobby for changes? And for the record, I voted against the Deep Bore Tunnel specifically because it contained insufficient provision for transit- as I said I would in a posting on the Waterfront last year.

    I don’t know how old you are, Charles, but I think it will be the condition of our educational system that finally starts to turn our politics in a positive direction. I believe that when people the age of the average Seattle Transit Blog reader- and editor- realize that this State’s current political direction is going to leave them seriously damaged for life for lack of the education they grew up expecting as an unquestioned reality, there’ll be votes- and new candidates- to set things right.

    Mark Dublin

    Mark Dublin

    1. The link in the post shows the bill history. It squeaked through in the Senate, and is on “2nd reading” on the House floor, as amended by the House Transportation Committee. Once passed in the House, it will get batted back and forth between the houses until they agree. Conference committees are rare in the Washington Legislature.

      The Governor then has the power of partial veto…

  7. Thanks. Will definitely go see my own reps, and also Luis Moscoso from Snohomish County, who used to drive for CT when I first started driving for Metro.

    Mark Dublin

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