SEATTLE – Governor Jay Inslee has shelved all WSDOT projects not already in motion and ordered transportation agencies curb all but the most critical spending in the wake of the passage of I-976.
The voter-approved measure cuts car-tab fees to just $30 and hampers state and local governments from taxing drivers without voter consent. The initiative passed by healthy margins in most Washington counties, notably failing in King County.
Washington is projected to lose $4 billion in revenue over the next six years due to the measure, according to the state Office of Financial Management.
In a statement, Inslee writes:
“In response to the will of the people, I am taking immediate action. I have directed the Washington State Department of Transportation to postpone projects not yet underway. I have also asked other state agencies that receive transportation funding, including the Washington State Patrol and Department of Licensing, to defer non-essential spending as we review impacts.”
The measure’s sponsor Tim Eyman says its passage was the product of frustration over perennially rising car tab costs.
More than 60 cities use car-tab fees to pay for road construction, bus service and sidewalks. The state also charges fees to help pay for programs including Washington State Patrol traffic enforcement, highway maintenance, ferry operations and maintenance of county roads and bridges.
King County isn’t letting the measure take effect without a fight. County Executive Dow Constantine has asked the Prosecuting Attorney's Office to file a lawsuit to block the measure.
Inslee added that his office will work to find ways to preserve the state’s infrastructure going forward.