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Washington Initiative Seeks Return to $30 Car Tabs

Permanent Offense

Washington initiative sponsor Tim Eyman is back with another ballot issue this year and once again it deals with car license fees.

Eyman is proposing Initiative 976, which would, once again, lower the annual vehicle fee to $30. The measure has been approved by voters before, but since then, fees have crept up. Eyman compares it to barnacles on a boat that has been cleaned.

He says the state has a big surplus it can use, and should give vehicle owners a break on their annual car tabs.

“The first time we did the $30 tab initiative the state had a $1 billion surplus," Eyman said. "After it passed they used the money to back fill the affected program, and that had a much greater financial impact than this one does. Here it is 20 years later and they have a $3.5 dollar surplus, and our initiative has a much smaller effect on state and local government programs than that previous one did. So if they can make it with a billion in surplus, they're going to have an easier program with the surplus they’ve got now."

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig disagrees, and says the proposal would gut many desperately needed infrastructure improvements in our region.

“Whatever you care about in transportation, this initiative will undermine it. So if you think it is important to invest in the Spokane North-South Corridor, or Barker Road, or transit projects or bike or pedestrian infrastructure, or repairing potholes, Initiative 976 will undermine just about everything in transportation that is important in this region, and that is why I am so firmly against it," Billig said.

He said it’s estimated that passage of I-976 would reduce revenues by $4 billion over six years.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.