Letter: My amendment sought true taxpayer accountability

Apr 19, 2017

I appreciate the frustration with how the new car tabs are being calculated, which is why I have been working to find a compromise that will give taxpayers relief but still keep light rail on track to Everett.

The letter writer describes an initial idea I had, but it wasn't the amendment I offered (“Senate Dems wrong to raid education money for transit,” April 19).

When Sound Transit 3 was authorized in 2015, a group of Seattle lawmakers forced their colleagues into diverting $518 million in transit taxes to pay for education and social services, as a condition for voting to approve the transportation package. They called the idea “taxpayer accountability” at the time.

So, when this car tab valuation issue came up this year, I proposed using that same $518 million for true taxpayer accountability to reduce our car tabs instead of diverting transit taxes for education.

But, there was a lot of opposition to the idea, so in an effort to find the middle ground and deliver actual taxpayer relief, I revised my proposal and simply reduced the cost of our tabs without diverting these funds. My amendment failed in the Senate on a party line vote.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans are insisting that we cut over $12 billion from ST3, which would undoubtedly cancel light rail to Everett and have a huge negative impact on Snohomish County. I continue to believe that our job is to find the middle ground and reduce car tabs in a way that keeps light rail on track to our area.

If any Beacon readers have ideas or opinions on the issue, here is my email address: marko.liias@leg.wa.gov.


Marko Liias
State Senator, 21st District
Comments (1)
Posted by: Joe Kunzler | Apr 19, 2017 21:49



You did the right thing.  Rep. Jessyn Farrell threatened to put the 2015 transportation package to referendum if you believe SeattleMet (I do).


From https://www.seattlemet.com/articles/2015/6/30/seattle-rep-threatening-statewide-referendum-on-transportation-package , "Yesterday, North Seattle state representative Jessyn Farrell (D-46) was threatening to add a referendum clause to the $16.1 billion state transportation package that legislative leaders had unveiled earlier that morning. Given that the plan comes with an 11.9 cent gas tax, sending the entire transportation package to the ballot (that’s what a referendum clause does) would surely jeopardize the whole thing. . . .

Her initial plan, she told me yesterday, was an amendment that would reserve the $500 million for the Puget Sound. “For schools. For programs. Our tax dollars would stay here.”

She said if the legislature didn’t accept the amendment, she’d put a referendum clause on the transportation package—which would likely have the backing of Republicans."


We transit advocates never should have let that deal stand.  Highways without referendum or reform, ST3 via referendum and then "reform" (which is me being civil).

At the least the money should have gone towards WSDOT mobility grants to keep transit money in the transit community, because unlike the public education industrial complex we don't have a WEA.  Transportation Choices Coalition is dramatically underfunded, understaffed and most certainly under-appreciated.  We have to fight tooth and nail to get funding for transit funding - but the highway lobby got a freebie from a pair of Seattle liberal hypocrites.


P.S. I think MVET reform is necessary to head off an initiative campaign; but NOT at the price of light rail to Paine Field & Everett at this point.

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