GOP senators promise 55 percent cut in car tabs if Democrats help

SEATTLE — Fifty-five percent. That's how much Senate Republicans say their plan will cut the car-tab taxes raised when voters passed Sound Transit 3. Sen. Steve O'Ban has been hearing from his Pierce County constituents.

"I even met a gentleman whose RV car tab tax increased by for (Sound Transit) by $2000 dollars over previous years," said O'Ban

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The Democratically controlled House passed car tab relief last week, but Republicans say the $40-$50 rebates are much too small.

"The Democratic plan is just not going to cut it," O'Ban said.

Voters approved $54 billion for Sound Transit 3, but Rep. Mark Harmsworth attacked the agency's spending.

"I mean this is the agency that has these $100,000 parking spots down in Pierce County. It has these parties, a million bucks parties for opening these train stations," he said.

They estimate a 55 percent car-tab fee cut will cost Sound Transit $4 billion to $6 billion. So, will Sound Transit still have enough money to bring light rail from Seattle to Tacoma?

"Well, let's see, if they don't they'll just keep taxing us won't they, because there is nothing to stop them," O'Ban responded.

In a statement, the Democratic chair of the Senate Transportation committee scoffed that: "Sen. O'Ban voted three times to authorize Sound Transit to collect car tab fees in this fashion and Rep. Harmsworth voted for the much more sensible car tab relief bill that passed the House. Today's press conference is simply a case of buyer's remorse," wrote Sen. Steve Hobbs.

O'Ban said that's because ST3 was part of a bigger statewide transportation bill that had something he wanted for his district. "It resulted in half a billion dollars to broaden I-5 along the JBLM corridor," he said.

Democratic senators are still crafting their own car tab relief plan, but are reluctant to cut too much from Sound Transit revenue because of possible cuts to federal transit aid by the Trump administration.