SEATTLE -- A large coalition is calling for more transportation money to fund transit and maintain roads in King County and across the state.
"Transit agencies across the state face a fiscal cliff and some have already gone over it," said King County executive Dow Constantine at a Monday morning news conference.
The coalition -- which includes King County, city of Seattle, Downtown Seattle Assocation, University of Washington and more -- asked state lawmakers to take action this year on a transportation funding package that includes new sources, beyond the sales tax, for funding. Failure to do so would mean a 17 percent cut to Metro Transit, they said.
"The state system for funding transit and roads is broken," Constantine said.
Some ideas being discussed for new revenue include:
- An 8 to 10 cent increase in the statewide gas tax;
- Allowing local governments to charge a small gas tax;
- Giving cities and local governments the power to charge $40 a year in car tab fees (instead of $20) without voter approval;
- Bringing back the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET), which would require drivers to pay a percentage of their car's value each year. One proposal in the state House would charge a 0.7 percent MVET. Some in the King County coalition have pushed for up to 1.5 percent.
"This is a creeping effort to try to crank up the tax on cars, which the public has clearly said, 'Enough is enough,'" said Paul Guppy, vice president of the Washington Policy Center.
Guppy said the public just does not support more car fees.
"This is all geared toward reducing people's take-home pay, increasing the tax burden on drivers and families across the county," he said.
State House Democrats have proposed a 10-year, $10 billion transportation package, but it is unclear if lawmakers will vote on that plan -- or any other transportation proposal -- this session.