Senate Bill 5955 will offer car owners in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties some relief from increases to vehicle license tabs under the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET), one of the primary funding sources for the expansion of light rail, the sounder, and bus rapid transit under Sound Transit 3.

“There is no doubt that people across our region had sticker shock when it came time to renew their car license tabs earlier this year,” said the bill’s prime sponsor Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue. “I heard from many of my constituents who saw their license tabs increase anywhere from $50 to $100 or more. For low-income individuals or families living with a fixed income, this increase makes a big impact in their finances. The addition of a credit for car owners will help offset some of the costs while keeping Sound Transit projects moving forward.”

The bill creates a market value adjustment program that will provide taxpayers with a credit for the difference between the vehicle depreciation schedule in current law and the 2006 depreciation schedule. The 2006 depreciation schedule has a deprecation rate that is lower for newer cars. Taxpayers will receive a one-time credit of the difference for taxes paid in 2017. The bill requires Sound Transit to implement the slated transportation projects in a manner that allows the delivery of the system and financing plan approved by the voters in 2016. Kuderer is working with her colleagues and the Senate Republican Majority to get the bill a hearing during the second special legislative session.

In November, voters approved the expansion of Sound Transit 3 and the increase in the motor vehicle excise tax. Specifically for the Eastside of King County, the transportation package includes expansion of light rail and two new bus rapid transit corridors. The legislature has grappled with a solution to the financial challenges families are experiencing because of the passage of Sound Transit 3. The Senate and the House of Representatives each have a different approach to address the topic.

“In the Senate we have passed the same flawed Republican bill along party lines, three times now,” said Kuderer. “Accepting a bill that could jeopardize the bond rating of the state, subject taxpayers to costly lawsuits, and put these critical transportation projects in limbo is not an option. We are running out of time for a resolution during this session. My constituents should not have to wait until next January for action on this issue.”

Senate Bill 5955 requires the regional transit authority to submit annual reports to the legislature on the status of the delivery of the projects in the plan. The bill also contains an emergency clause making it effective as soon as it is signed into law.