Washington state election results are in, and Initiative 976, a measure to cap car tabs at $30, passed with 60 percent of the votes cast on Nov. 5. More than Washington state cities use car-tab fees to fund road construction, bus service transit, and sidewalks. The vote means that state and local governments are now projected to lose $4.2 billion in revenue over next six years. This will cause a loss of funding for numerous transit and transportation projects across the state.
Sound Transit, a regional transportation authority, is especially vulnerable as it executes a 25-year $54 billion plan to expand transit service in Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties. The agency will lose $20 billion through 2041, which will cause certain light-rail projects to be canceled or delayed.
In response Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has deferred all Washington State Department of Transportation projects not in progress and ordered transportation related agencies curb non-critical spending. State legislators are also bracing for future cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, while some municipality officials from King County and Seattle are preparing suits challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 976.
Tim Eyman, who sponsored Initiative 976, says it was the product of frustration over perennially rising car tab costs. He warned against any attempt to challenge the initiative, saying it would only fuel people’s distrust of government.
See our annual ballot report for more information on the Nov. 5 election results. TIAC offers a comprehensive summary and analysis of 270 approved initiatives that are expected to generate over $9.6 billion in one-time and recurring revenue.