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.
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.
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