In a letter sent Monday, Sen. Steve O’Ban urged the governor to suspend car-tab fee collections in excess of $30, which is the amount voters approved in the recent passage of I-976.
At a time when the current public health crisis is creating record-high unemployment numbers, many cannot afford car-tab fees totaling several hundred dollars and are forced to choose between driving legally or putting food on their table. During a recent press conference, Gov. Inslee indicated he would be willing to look at the lower car-tab fees as part of his economic response.
“To continue to require out-of-work Washingtonians, and small business owners of non-essential activities, to pay a vehicle licensing fee that exceeds, in some areas of the state, $400-600, or more, is unacceptable,” said O’Ban, R-Pierce County. “We cannot force people to choose between paying for food and other necessities on the one hand or paying hundreds of dollars in car tab taxes on the other during economic devastation, the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression.”
By overwhelmingly approving I-976 in November, voters, in effect, declared they did not believe the burdensome car-tab fees were justified by the transportation projects funded by car tabs. In 2020, the Legislature provided the funding necessary to backfill these projects if I-976 was implemented. Recently, King County Superior Court declared $30 car tabs constitutional, clearing the path for the governor to implement them.
“This is the governor’s chance to stand with the people, especially now that so many transportation construction projects are suspended as part of the governor’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ policy,” said O’Ban. “It would demonstrate to voters that he understands the significant financial strain Washingtonians are under.”
O’Ban has requested a response by April 30.
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