Shame on me for not being aware of it until now, but a fairly significant vehicle license fee is sailing through the Legislature without a whole lot of public attention or debate.
House Bill 2855 would empower local public transit boards to enact $20 annual license-tab fees for four years without voter approval. The state House of Representatives looks poised to pass early next week; it then goes to the Senate.
Andrew Austin – an advocate and member of the pro-transit Transportation Choices Coalition – says the measure would help Pierce Transit and its counterparts in other counties get through a funding crisis. Pierce Transit, he says, now faces the possibility of cutting back its bus service as much as 50 percent because of the recession-driven drop in sales taxes.
Tim Eyman, who made his name demolishing Washington’s license-tab fees with Initiative 695, is predictably vitriolic. As he sees it, the voters’ first line of defense against unwanted taxes is requiring that tax measures be put up for a vote. Absent that, the second line of defense is letting voters hold elected officials accountable for imposing taxes by either re-electing them or throwing them out office.
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