Transportation Choices’ statement on House Bill 2201

On Monday, the House Transportation Committee voted to advance House Bill 2201. This bill would require Sound Transit to reimburse taxpayers for a portion of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) that voters approved in 2016 when they passed Sound Transit 3. Sound Transit estimates that the bill will result in a $780 million revenue loss to the agency and over the long term, the accumulated loss would be about $2.3 billion due to higher financing costs. A $780 million loss in revenue to Sound Transit would have significant impacts on the agency’s ability to deliver voter-approved projects.

The bill essentially aligns taxes to reflect a more recent car valuation schedule by providing car owners a reimbursement for the difference between the 2006 MVET and older 1999 MVET car valuations, which Sound Transit currently uses. We appreciate efforts to address tax payer fairness and find reasonable solutions that do not impact voter-approved projects. However, we cannot support this bill in its current form.

We suggest the following improvements to the legislation to address tax fairness for working families while keeping voter-approved projects on track:

  1. The reimbursement or credit should only be provided to cars valued at or below $30,000, providing relief to middle and low-income families who need it the most.
  2. Find solutions to reduce the $780 million revenue gap created by this bill, either by limiting the tax adjustment to working families or other policy options that address the loss of revenue to Sound Transit.

Voters across the region approved Sound Transit 3 with 54% support. Projects in Sound Transit 3 will bring important connections to job centers and provide options for residents stuck in traffic. We urge legislators to address these issues without delaying or canceling these transit projects.

The House of Representatives is likely to vote on House Bill 2201 in the next few days. These suggested improvements will go a long way in ensuring that voter-approved projects stay on track while responding to the needs of working families.

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