SEATTLE – Tim Eyman announced his intention to unseat Washington Governor Jay Inslee Thursday afternoon during a Sound Transit board meeting in Seattle.
“I am running against Jay Inslee, Seattle’s current Governor,” said Eyman. “I think the voters in this state deserve somebody besides Seattle supported monstrosity.”
His microphone was cut during the board meeting for allegedly violating public comment rules.
The announcement came during Sound Transit’s first public hearing since voters statewide approved I-976 which cut motor vehicle taxes to a flat $30 rate.
Sound Transit worries the initiative will cripple how it raises money to pay for construction and transit expansion.
But the board says there are already contracts signed and projects underway that have already obligated funds – stopping those projects would be the last place staff would recommend absorbing the loss
In the next five years, Sound Transit’s CEO insists the agency will triple the length of its light rail system – from 22 miles and 16 stations miles to 60 miles and 44 stations.
The agency’s attorney insists the I-976 language still provides the agency an obligation to collect taxes.
“Sections 10 and 11 provide that our MVET and rental car tax are repealed,” said the agency attorney Desmond Brown. “However, the provisions repealing our tax do not take effect at this time. The initiative expressly provides that the repeal of our taxes does not take effect until the date on which all of the bonds and other debt to which the tax is pledged are fully repaid. Currently, we have $2.3 billion in outstanding and unpaid bonds and dept obligations and the tax must be collected until those are retired.”
Eyman insisted voters overwhelmingly rejected the high motor vehicle taxes and says Sound Transit lied to the voters in 2016 when ST3 passed.
“Folks got their bills and the $80 promise of car tabs were $300, $500, $800,” he said. “And the election was a very clear message. And the reaction is Seattle suing the voters because the voters defied their wishes.”
I-976 is being challenged by not only the city of Seattle and King County, but also other transportation agencies across the state claiming the initiative guts public projects well beyond the initiative’s intent.
There’s also the question of whether the initiative is constitutional. The issue is expected to be challenged in court on multiple fronts.
After Thursday's meeting, the board chair released a statement that reads in part:
"While I-976 passed statewide it failed within the Sound Transit District. The current estimate of 53 percent opposition is almost identical to the 54 percent who adopted the Sound Transit 3 program in 2016. For the second time in just three years, the district voters who actually pay Sound Transit’s motor vehicle excise tax have endorsed its continuation to finance the transit expansions our region so desperately needs."
Read the entire statement published here.