Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Voters willing to pay a motor vehicle excise tax to improve roads & transit

Once again, the Associated Press gives Tim Eyman a friendly blurb. Hard to tell whether this is the beginning of an unfinished article or just a rushed brief. Via the Seattle P-I's website:
Eyman says car tab taxes going up again

MUKILTEO, Wash. -- Initiative activist Tim Eyman says the Legislature's decision to allow cities and counties to raise the car tab tax is an insult to taxpayers.

The measure would allow a 20-dollar-a-year fee to pay for local road projects, without a vote of the people.

Eyman says it violates the decisions of voters and the Legislature to keep car tabs at 30 dollars.
(That's it. There isn't any more, this isn't an excerpt).

Of course Eyman would say that, but it's certainly not an insult to taxpayers. The Legislature is acting on input gathered from the people of Washington State, who are tired of sitting in gridlock and desperate for transportation solutions.

There are only so many sources for the revenue that is needed to pay for the projects people want. The authorization of a reasonably sized local motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) is a sesnsible move.

Crafting public policy based on narrowly approved right wing initiatives from yesteryear (2002's I-776) is entirely unwise.

In fact, recent polling released this week from EMC Research (to inform Puget Sound decision makers about public response to the proposed Roads & Transit package) indicates voters are willing to pay an MVET.

A poll of 800 registered voters in Sound Transit's taxing district, conducted earlier this month (the 1st through the 4th) with a 3.5% margin of error, found that over 60% would support "a package that would increase the sales tax of one percent, and the car license tab by eight tenths of one percent to fund a total of sixteen point five billion dollars in road, highway, and mass transit improvements in Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties."

The poll, which can be projected to the entire voting population of the RTA (Sound Transit district) confirms that voters are enthusiastic about the concept and scope of the proposed Roads & Transit package and willing to pay for it.

Support still outweighed opposition even after respondents were read the cost to the "typical household" without hearing a description of the proposed projects. And then with such an understanding, support for the package was high at 63%.

(More on the poll in this post).

Tim Eyman and his cohorts do not speak for the majority of voters and taxpayers in Washington State. What the Legislature and municipal agencies such as Sound Transit are doing is what the people expect.

The direction that Washingtonians want political leaders to take has been and is being clearly expressed. Just look at election returns from the last two years, polling data, and public input.

A Permanent Defense special report published in September 2004 found that overwhelming approval was the norm across the Evergreen State for municipal propositions that asked voters to increase taxes for better public services - like fire, police, and emergency medical protection, or libraries and parks.

There's a reason Republicans suffered such brutal losses in last year's midterms at the local level. Voters don't want to hear tired anti-tax rhetoric, whining, and temper tantrums from right wing ideologues. They want to see progress. Democrats are willing to take action - so voters have empowered them.

That's what democracy is all about.

All Tim Eyman does is complain, attack, grouse. He's made a career out of it. He's a reactionary who doesn't appreciate the value of public services and doesn't understand basic accounting. He's also a failure - his most recent flop was his inability to qualify Initiative 917 (it would have gutted funding from the 2005 Transportation Package).

If he's so opposed to a motor vehicle excise tax, then what realistic alternatives for revenue does he propose?

If he can't or won't answer (likely the case), then he has no credible position and shouldn't be taken seriously.

It's imperative we invest in public infrastructure that will ensure broad prosperity, transportation choices, and a cleaner environment. We have to stop listening to the minority adamantly opposed to making any investment and move forward. Our future depends on it.

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