With less than 30 days left in the legislature, not much agreement on how to handle $30 car tab drama

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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- With around 28 days left in the legislative session, it’s unclear if any solutions will pass in time to resolve the drama around $30 car tabs.

“I would like to address the issue this year, my constituents have been asking me to do something,” Senator Marko Liias said.

The fight over Tim Eyman's Initiative 976 has been so complicated and political it continues to play out in the courts.

“We do not know when we will receive ultimate resolution,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.

King County Judge Marshall Ferguson on Wednesday sided with Eyman, saying that I-976 was not unconstitutional. It was a defeat for the city of Seattle and King County, which both sued over the initiative.

The did not make a final ruling on other questions surrounding the legal battle.

Eyman said he was blown away by the decision that he called "unexpected."

“Jaw-dropped over the whole thing. This is fantastic,” Eyman said

Eyman’s opponents say $30 car tabs will decimate transportation funding. The fight will end up at the state Supreme Court.

“Give us some clarity on this as soon as possible so we can make some rational decisions,” Inslee said.

In the meantime, Inslee says the state will preserve funds in case the final decision says drivers need to be compensated for paying higher car tabs.

Republicans like Senator Steve O’Ban are critical of Inslee’s stance.

“We had a governor who showed better leadership and he was a Democrat, Governor Locke when we first passed $30 car tabs, 10, 15 years ago whenever that was, the Governor Locke called a special session to enact $30 car tabs. He wasn’t waiting around for the courts,” O’Ban said.

O’Ban’s bill to enact $30 car tabs has so far gone nowhere in a Democratically controlled House and Senate. O’Ban says he was hoping to use taxes from car sales to plug the transportation budget.

“Today that money is going to our classrooms, it’s going to our schools,” Inslee said.

Inslee says the bill was a non-starter for those reasons.

“To think we can shift where the money is going and it magically appears, it’s a pixie dust proposal. It doesn’t solve the problem,” Inslee said.

O’Ban says there is enough money in reserves to meet all the needs.

"Coming from someone who is showing no leadership not proposing any type of a solution, I don’t frankly give that much weight,” O’Ban said.

Democratic Senator Marko Liias is attacking the problem from a different angle. He wants to change the way car tabs are calculated and also create a payment plan.

“It shows that cars are being valued as much as $10,000, we are being taxed on these values that are not realistic,” Liias said.

Liias says he is trying to find the middle ground.

“We want light rail, we want relief, we also want a tax system that’s fair and understandable and at least on market value,” Liias said.

O’Ban, however, says there is one big problem with the Liias’s proposal.

"I respect Senator Liias but that bill goes absolutely the wrong decision, his bill would repeal 976 and after yesterday’s ruling the last thing we should be doing now is repealing it,” O’Ban said.

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