$30 car tabs passes in Washington state

SEATTLE — UPDATE, Nov. 6: Washington state voters approved a measure cutting car tabs to $30, a move that will cut billions of dollars from transportation budgets and leave governments scrambling for a way to pay for road paving, light rail and other projects.

Initiative 976 had a healthy lead after early returns Tuesday night and continued to pass by large margins as votes were counted Wednesday. King County, the state's most populous, was rejecting I-976 but most other counties were approving it.

Sponsored by Tim Eyman, the measure would cap most taxes paid through annual vehicle registration at $30 and largely revoke the authority of state and local governments to add new taxes and fees without voter approval.

The measure would also repeal taxes and fees that were already in place, which could cost the state and local governments more than $4 billion in revenue over the next six years, according to the state Office of Financial Management.

UPDATE, Nov. 5: The initiative to reduce car tabs to $30 in Washington was ahead statewide after the first round of election numbers were released Tuesday night. See the latest results here.

By 8:40, when additional statewide numbers were in, the measure was leading with 54.61 percent of the votes counted. That was with 854,054 votes counted statewide.

I-976 is sponsored by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman and opposed by the mayors of Seattle, Everett, Edmonds, Tacoma, Mukilteo and other cities. It also was opposed by the King and Snohomish County executives.

ORIGINAL TEXT: Washington state voters are weighing in on an initiative in the Nov. 5 general election that would reduce car tabs to $30 but cut a major source of funding for transportation projects across the state.

I-976, sponsored by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman, would repeal taxes and fees that are already in effect, such as those collected by Sound Transit in the Puget Sound area.

Related: Taxpayers' lawsuit against Sound Transit car tab hike in court

Voters approved those increases in 2016 as part of ST3, a light-rail expansion package for King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. But they weren't prepared when some saw their car tab fees double, triple and even quadruple.

Eyman says Sound Transit duped the public because the agency uses a method of vehicle valuation that inflates some car values.

But opponents say drivers should look beyond their wallets. They argue that if passed, the initiative would devastate the state's transportation system by cutting funding and affecting projects already in progress, such as the Northgate light rail station.

Related: Statewide campaign against Tim Eyman's $30 car tab initiative kicks off

State officials say it would cost state and local transit $4 billion in their budgets and would endanger smaller projects like road maintenance and street paving.

A lawsuit filed by taxpayers may also determine the fate of the Sound Transit car tab fee. It awaits a decision from the Washington Supreme Court.

Eyman's $30 car tab initiative first passed 20 years ago. It was struck down in court before being enacted by lawmakers.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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