In an apparent shocking apparent betrayal of their constituents who voted to pass Sound Transit 3, House Democrats voted unanimously for Engrossed House Bill 2201, which would effectively lower the ST3 portion of MVET bills from the 1994 valuation, as prescribed in ST3’s enabling legislation, to the 2006 valuation, which would lower the bill for most cars under 10 years of age and leave the valuation at the lower 1994 valuation for older cars, removing even more funding from Sound Transit than what Republicans had demanded.
To date, no fiscal note has been made available for the bill, but it appears to cost Sound Transit ca. $780 million in direct revenue and ca. $2 billion after higher borrowing costs. If federal support for Sound Transit evaporates as a result, the damage could balloon. While kneecapping the funding for which voters in the ST3 district just voted to tax themselves for, the state legislature has shown no interest in providing direct state funding of Sound Transit.
EHB 2201 would create a pecking order for projects to be cancelled, starting with parking projects, then commuter rail, then bus service, and then light rail projects if everything else is cut.
In Sound Transit’s north subarea, consisting of Seattle and Shoreline, that likely means Sound Transit subsidies of RapidRide service would go away, and then 130th St Station, Graham St Station, and Boeing Access Rd Station would be on the bubble. Grade separation of West Seattle and Ballard Link might be jeopardized, too. Without the fiscal note normally made available for bills before they even pass out of committee, the depth of the cuts is hard to calculate.
The bill still has to get through the State Senate, where the Republican majority may amend the bill for the sake of maintaining their ability to campaign on the issue, even after House Democrats gave the Republicans more than they originally asked for. Or, the Senate Republican majority could declare victory and send the bill, as is, to the governor’s desk.
Update: Rep. Jessyn Farrell responded to the post, conceding that legislators missed that the older valuation schedule was prescribed for the MVET in the ST3 enabling law until the ST1 bonds are retired, and that they had not intended to use a schedule that doesn’t reflect car resale value, which the 2006 table does very well. In response to a question on regressiveness, she pointed out that Sound Transit opted not to use the progressive head tax the legislature authorized. In response to what happens next, she was firm, “We say no deal if the Senate changes the bill at all in a negative way.”