Robert Ashworth (Flickr)

House Bill 2201, which would reduce Sound Transit 3 funding by as much as $3 billion, has moved quickly in the legislature. In a rare move, it got heard in the House Transportation Committee and voted out on the same day Monday. (Start at 23:00 in the video.) Even more unusually, no fiscal note was available to the public. Then Tuesday, it moved out of the House Rules Committee onto the House second reading floor calendar. It could come up for a vote at any time.

Two pro-Sound-Transit groups came out against the bill quickly: Transportation Choices and Seattle Subway.

The bill would reduce the valuation used to calculate Sound Transit’s motor vehicle excise tax from the formula used by the 1994 legislature to the formula used by the 2006 legislature for the 0.8% ST3 portion. Both formulae are based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), but the newer one features a quicker depreciation schedule which charges less for newer cars and a little bit more for older cars, making the 2006 formula less progressive. The ST1 portion of 0.3% of the vehicle’s value would continue at the 1994 formula until ST1 bonds are paid off, which is expected to happen after the last of the bonds mature in 2028.

Once the ST1 bonds are paid off, the ST1 portion of the MVET will go away. The Sound Transit sales tax rate will also drop from 1.4% to 0.9%, reflecting the end of the ST1 sales tax.

The bill that authorized ST3, Second Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5987 (from 2015) specified that the MVET would continue to be calculated under the 1994 formula until ST1 bonds are paid off, and then it would be calculated at the 2006 formula. (See page 69 of the bill as passed, and page 8 of the final bill report, and also listen to the staff testimony from the HB 2201 hearing.)

Sound Transit provided a calculator to estimate individuals’ taxes during the 2016 ST3 campaign.

Rep. Mike Pellicciotti

HB 2201 is sponsored by Rep. Mike Pellicciotti (D – Federal Way). Rep. Pellicciotti put out a press release on Monday making his case for the bill.

In a provision reportedly added by Joe Fitzgibbon (D – West Seattle), the bill would require Sound Transit to cut parking projects, commuter rail, and bus service, in that order, to keep light rail projects on schedule.

Tell your legislators to respect the will of the 55% of voters who passed ST3, for whom transit expansion is more important than lower car tabs. A new provision in the bill would only use the 2006 schedule if the

You can find your legislators and contact them using the district-finder tool. You can also contact the governor using this form.

24 Replies to “Democrat Bill Reducing ST Funding on House Floor”

  1. So is it a “Democrat” bill or a “Bipartisan” bill? STB has now spun its headline both ways.

    If the political reality is that the MVET schedule is untenable, then the MVET schedule will change—whether by this house or the one that’s voted in to replace them. If it needs to change, then HB 2201 seems to change it in a way that prioritizes the most important projects.

    1. Changing the MVET schedule is fine – but only as long as the lost revenues are replaced. HB 2201 doesn’t do that. It just cuts revenue from Sound Transit. It’s indefensible.

    2. It’s “Democratic” not “Democrat”. The shortening of the word was intended as an insulting taunt from conservative news sources.

      1. Precisely, and in the case of the headline it could be simply changed to “Democrats’ bill…”.

    3. Every house bill has to come out of a (D) controlled committee, so nearly by definition, are Democratic bills.

      However, the committee is still made up of individual representatives, not some homogenous partybot. The districts represented by the particular Democrats on the transportation committee read like a list of the suburbs that voted against ST3. Breaking down the 14 Democrats on the committee, 9 of them are from suburban portions of the ST service area, 1 is from a hybrid urban/suburban district, and the other 4 are from other parts of the state and are just along for the ride.

      — In ST service area:
      Committee Chair Judy Clibborn, representing Mercer Island, Newcastle, and lower Sammamish (but not Issaquah).
      Committee Vice Chair Jessyn Farrell, representing Northgate and the Lake Washington coastline from Laurelhurst to Kenmore.
      Committee Vice chair Jake Fey, representing Downtown Tacoma(!) and Dash Point
      Majority Floor Leader Gael Tarleton, representing Northgate and the Lake Washington coastline from Laurelhurst to Kenmore (same districts as Farrell).
      Majority Caucus Vice Chair Lillian Ortiz-Self, representing the Puget Sound coastline from Edmonds to Mukilteo, and north Lynnwood.
      Assistant Majority Whip Joan McBride, representing Redmond and the 520 corridor from the shores of Lake Washington to the shores of Lake Sammamish.
      Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore John Lovick, representing Mill Creek, Snohomish, and Lake Stevens
      Mia Gregerson, representing SeaTac, Kent, and Des Moines.
      Shelley Kloba, representing Mountlake Terrace, Bothell, and the sprawl northeastward to the Snohomish river.
      Mike Pellicciotti, representing Federal Way, Milton, and Algona

      — Outside of Sound Transit Area:

      Committee Vice chair Sharon Wylie, representing downtown Vancouver
      Majority Whip Marcus Riccelli, representing Spokane
      Assistant Majority Whip Mike Chapman, representing the Olympic peninsula
      Jeff Morris, representing the San Juans, Mount Vernon, and southern Bellingham

      1. Thanks for the list, Lack.

        Pretty sure Farrell/Tarleton’s district voted heavily in favor of ST3; it may not be Capitol Hill, and only the fringe of the district is getting a lot out of the deal, but the 46th has typically been very supportive of transit.

  2. The link on that calculator to the Department of Licensing to figure out your tax?

    Doesn’t work.

    Oh and when you do finally find the DOT calculator? Doesn’t work for cars more than 6 months out from re-registering.

    So I thank these folks in Olympia for calling you on your BS.

    1. Similar calculators worked during the campaign for all cars. Both ST and the Seattle Times provided a calculator. So, there’s no BS.

      1. “Both ST and the Seattle Times provided a calculator.”

        Post the link to the Seattle Times one.

        And how many low income and middle class folks had time to go search this out?

        Thank you Olympia! Score one for car drivers.

      2. Invoking the low income… low income and middle class folks will see their tabs raised if this bill is enacted. The current valuation scheme undervalues older cars, giving a tax break to the needy.

        Under the proposed scheme, if your car is older than average, you will pay more. If your car is newer than average, you will pay less.

        The depreciation table was no grand mystery. This is the exact same formula the old statewide MVET was calculated using in the 90’s.

      3. The actual link to the Pre-ST3 vote by the Seatte Times:

        To quote from that article:
        “To complicate matters, the official “value” for tax purposes is usually higher than what you might get by selling your car, or find in the Kelley Blue Book. Your car depreciates faster in real life than it does in the Legislature. That disparity is a vestige of the 1990s, when the state inflated its car-depreciation charts to rake in more dollars for ferries and revenue sharing with bus agencies, cities and counties.

        Finding your proposed ST3 car tax is easy. Take your 2016 car-tab bill and locate the figure for the “RTA Tax,” which was approved in 1996. Multiply it by 2.67 to determine the effect of raising a $30 tax rate by $80. To refine that figure further, multiply it by 0.93, since your official car value would depreciate 7 percent by 2017.”

        That last paragraph is done without having access to any computers…
        Isn’t that amazing?

        Here’s Sound Transit’s tax calculator:

        and there’s even a link there to the DOL ST3 car tab tax estimator.

      4. Not really a score for car drivers and taxpayers- car-dependent culture basically is a money suck in the long run ( ). Self-driving cars aren’t enough to really cut down on traffic ( ) and the density that Strong Towns discovered we need to maintain fiscal sanity in the long run is incompatible with everyone depending on cars ( ). So, it’s a case of saving a few dollars now at the expense of your children and grandchildren being saddled with tends of thousands of dollars in local government debt and deficits.

      5. Can we just move to Plan B, please? Seattle should put tolling gates at the point every non-freeway arterial crosses the City limits and at the point that each freeway exit ownership by WSDOT ends. Mail a special Good-To-Go tag for each car registered within the City of Seattle which gets a pass on the tolls and otherwise charge $10 per entry.

        This is entirely legal. Traffic passing through Seattle on an Interstate facility will pay no toll. ONLY if the car exits from the freeway at some point, or crosses the tolling curtains at 145th and the south end will it pay a toll. There is absolutely no possibility of violating Federal law.

        Can you say “London, Washington”? How about “Paris, Washington”? Or maybe “Singapore, Washington”?

        Use the money to pay for Ballard-Downtown-West Seattle.

  3. Federal Way is getting Light Rail under ST3. Why does this maroon legislator want to potentially screw his constituents out of Light Rail??? And West Seattle Fitzgibbon is on board with this draconian bill too???

    1. Maybe because the way it meanders all through Seattle, it’s slower than driving 90% of the time.

      1. With population growth, it’s pretty much going to be faster then driving by the time it’s complete, even with self-driving cars. Plus, transit is dependable 99% of the time- you know it will take x time to reach wherever you’re going. But with cars, traffic is unpredictable, and it often can take longer to reach your destination because of traffic then by grade-separated transit. Plus, the route through Rainer Valley adds a grand total of four minutes to the route- hardly a meander. It’s actually federal regulations on light rail trains’ speed that makes the route slower.

      2. Link to Federal Way isn’t going to be the 577. It’s something like a combination of the 574, 500/501, and RR-A. So travel times into downtown Seattle should not be our priority benchmark for how Federal Way is served.

        But the district that includes Federal Way stretches wide from the sound into the foothills, including many cities that are resolutely anti-transit.

        I wouldn’t say for sure if Fitzgibbon is on board or not. All he’s done is insert an amendment so that in the event this bill passes, Link to West Seattle is well protected from cuts, and all park & rides are removed from ST3. But I will be hassling him on this for a clear position because he’s my rep.

      3. Seven minutes and 14 seconds versus a straight line “bypass” along Airport Way with only one station at Georgetown.

      4. Let’s make sure existing dense neighborhoods have some service first before we even discuss adding a parallel route so that people can save a couple of minutes over the existing line.

      5. Eric,

        Of course, and given developments in the past two weeks in Olympia and The Other Washington®, service to the dense neighborhoods on the west side of Seattle is in some jeopardy.

        But people keep repeating this incorrect assertion that it’s “only four minutes”. It is seven and a quarter minutes if Graham Street is built and six and a half if not. Trains do not come to an immediate halt from fifty miles an hour. Yes, there’s only one station, Beacon Hill, where the trains are running at track speed as they approach, but even from thirty-five miles an hour it adds roughly twenty seconds on each side of the station to slow and the return to running speed versus just running through the point at which the station sits were it not there.

        And with the “request and grant” signal system it takes a minimum of thirty seconds per station.

        Add on that fact that it’s about a mile and a half longer and it all comes up to six and a half to seven and a quarter minutes depending on Graham Street. If the region does continue growing, including South King and Pierce, shifting the Rainier Valley line mainly to serve Renton and East Hill while building the bypass makes a lot of sense. That has always been in the future, of course, and is now much dimmer. But that doesn’t mean that the spectacular at-grade right of way east of Airport Way north of Georgetown shouldn’t be preserved. It can be done so for only a few million dollars.

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