The Democrat-Controlled State House Just Passed a Bill that Could Cost $2 Billion in Light Rail Funding

Comments

1
So some part of the system is not going to be built. Did any of our brave Demoncrats stand up and volunteer to sacrifice the part of the system in their district? A station or a parking garage, perhaps?
2
The fact that representatives from Aberdeen and other backwoods towns are allowed to determine the fate of the Seattle metro area's transit ventures (funded exclusively by Seattle area taxes, which will never have an effect on their areas) is laughable. We should secede.
3
@2 Good point but it does not sound like there are even enough King County legislators with enough spine to stand up to those 'struggling families' with $60,000 SUVs.
4
Our Democratic leaders in Washington are fucking spineless. They manage to lose to Republicans at every opportunity, even when in power. Our state gov't has proven they can't monitor or control the billions given away in shady deals or toothless contracts, or wasted when we can't finish a single project on time, they don't care that taxpayers are charged and overcharged for failing schools, failing "homelessness prevention", failing "affordable" housing, failing roads/tunnels/transit, failing regulatory control, skyrocketing utility costs and property taxes, sales taxes and "sin" taxes.
I hate listening to the socialist shrills but the DINO Democrats are going to lose the support of those of us with expendable income that voted them in office and who always vote Yes on new taxes.
They should be fucking ashamed of themselves right now. The gov't should have stayed shut down. Instead- even when the people supported closing the gov't for the protection of our Dreamers and kiddos, they buckled to Republicans, who I'll add are doing the EXACT same thing they did in December when they rushed the tax bill in, immediately after we voted to fund the fucking gov't.
So, no transit for us. But we can be homeless and pay higher taxes while they deport our friends and neighbors, kill all the kids over 40 weeks from totally preventable illnesses, and ban abortion! THIS IS WHAT OUR DEMOCRATS ARE GIVING US.
5
Sound transit is a complete disaster.
You live near the Capital Hill Station, right? Why isn't this a transit hub for the city, with buses coming and going? It the same lack of buses at the U District station - there's not even a place to drop off someone, much less interact with the bus system. Why did Sound Transit build these stations if they don't work to ease traffic throughout the city, and not just one neighborhood at a time?
Well, get on the damn thing. Take the ride to the end, at the airport, where you are deposited into a fucking parking lot. And wlak through the god damn outside parking lot to finally get to the airport.
Or maybe you got off way back, at one of those outdoor stations whose roof let rain come in when it's windy at all. Really. $50 Billion and not even a real roof.
And is there a mass transit station anywhere this side of eastern europe that is so fucking ugly as the one at Capital Hill? With no landscaping, and a soulless that shouts at you as soon as you se it, with its ugly asphalted ground all around. It's as barren as the minds working at Sound Transit.
And we pay with this with regressive sales taxes that hurt lower income people the most.
This agency needs a lot more than a few nips and tucks of losing some car tab fees. It should be dissolved, it's debts and assets given to new agency isn't as top heavy, and that isn't overseen by the local mayors and politicians.
Of course, this will never happen.
Sound Transit is fucked. We're fucked.
6
ST3 is a train to nowhere. Especially the future. And we still pay for most of the ticket cost, per person, on the trip to nowhere trains that are running.

Just Wait And See Your Property Taxes This Year! People renting get Ready.
9
Shouldn't that headline be the Democratic controlled legislature?
10
You can want mass transit and think Sound Transit is evil. How much of that budget goes to lawyers and lobbyists?
11
Heidi, taxing something at an inflated valuation is always going to be a political loser.

Imagine a system where someone goes to the store to buy some household necessities. The person loads up their cart with exactly $100 of items. With a 10.1% sales tax, one would expect to pay $110.10 at the register, right?

But then when that person gets to the register, she finds that the state has assigned inflated taxable value to her purchases, and instead of $10.10 in tax, she's being asked to cough up $14 in tax. So, even though the law says 10.1%, she's paying an effective tax rate of $14%.

Isn't that unjust? Well, the system I describe is how Sound Transit's MVET works right now. People know that they're being overcharged, and they blame government generally for the problem.

The adults in the room know that fixing this problem is essential to prevent a tax revolt, but you can't see the forest for the trees.
12
As long as we continue to insist on subsidizing the parasitic wealthy class, we are going to have these problems.

The rich should be taxed for being alive.
13
Two questions:
1) The Times article in the link says that our supreme court ruled that because Sound Transit sold bonds based on the inflated car value rate, we are stuck paying it until 2028. And that the rate has ALREADY been changed by both vote and the legislature but can't go into effect because of the bonds. So what will the current vote do different?
2) "If passed and signed by the governor as is, it will cost Sound Transit $780 million in direct costs. With related issues like higher borrowing costs, the total cost will be $2.3 billion, according to the agency." How is revenue reduction a direct cost? I get that it's lost income, but is that the same thing as a cost? A "direct" or "total" cost? Is it word play?
(And I'm not being as asshole this here. I'm genuinely asking.)
17
@2- you're an idiot. ST3 expanded the tax base to include a large swath of Pierce and Snohomish counties. Tell me again how Seattle is footing the bill?
18
@17, Not that I matters, but both Pierce and Snohomish counties voted ST3 down.
19
Sargon dear, we have no income tax. Thus, costs for society are financed through a onerous sales tax and various add-ons like the car tab tax. This allows the wealthy to not pay their fair share of societal costs, and have more money to pass on to their idiotic children, who then feel that it is their entitlement to not support society.

And "poor people in Seattle" get subsidized utility bills because we have a Socialist model of utility distribution. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. But what is the point of reduced utility bills if you can't afford a place to live?

You must try not to be such a lickspittle, and lackey to the wealthy. When the angry mobs arrive at the gates of Broadmoor and The Highlands, your type will be the first to go into the tumbrils, for the wealthy will be the ones that throw you to that mob.
20
The proposed Seattle income tax was already split 6 ways from Sunday when it was voted on. Only a fraction is going to tax relief for the poor and no one explained how. Maybe drop one tenth of a percent off the sales tax?
I don't mind the rich, they pay most of the taxes. The poor are tax burdened by the percentage of their income going to taxes. Why the hell they keep voting in these tax and spend Progressives is beyond me, but this is what you get with a half a century of one party Democratic rule.
21
Rather than wade into the muck of this thread, I just want to offer a correction to the comment @17. Snohomish County in fact voted in favor of ST3, 51.00% to 49.00%. Sadly, the commenter @17 probably already knows that.
22
Correction to my correction @21. I was referring to the commenter @18, not @17.
23
@20 There is no governance without taxation. The poor are tax burdened but the money for development has to come from somewhere (one cannot be both anti-mass transit and pro-development) and there is plenty of money at the top. Vote for a progressive income tax. Don't shoot yourself in the foot.
24
A little history: The legislature passed a law creating the Sound Transit agency, and they pass laws limiting their funding. Not only must Sound Transit pass a ballot initiative (a levy) to raise taxes, but the legislature limits how much they can raise, and the specific taxes allowed. In the law that authorized an ST3 vote, it had the old MVET formula, not the new one. Thus it was the legislature that actually authorized the car tab formula they now hate, not Sound Transit. Sound Transit could have proposed something smaller, but the formula for car tabs would have been the same.

So basically the legislature told them to use the old formula for ST3. ST3 passed using the old formula, and now the legislature is saying they want to change the formula.

In my opinion, this is all bullshit. I get why they don't like the old formula -- but they fucked up. The legislature fucked up, but now they are blaming Sound Transit for the fuck up, and want to cut funding.

I'm not a fan of Sound Transit -- I think they manage to fuck things up left and right. I think ST3 was a complete joke -- it is stupid to spend so much money on suburban areas and ignore the urban core. It is stupid to spend billions providing rail to a low density place like West Seattle that already has a freeway connecting it to the city. The agency has managed to fuck up things like bus integration and station access in general, while being focused on miles and miles of new track. I get all that.

But the voters approved this measure. It is complete bullshit to then cut money from their approved budget simply because the legislature fucked up. There is only so much that the legislature can do, since the legislature can not tax the Sound Transit district. They could raise taxes state wide, but no one in Spokane wants to chip in for a stupid train to Issaquah just because the legislature fucked up.

But there are alternatives. One would be to authorize a new vote, using the new formula. Make it revenue neutral, by raising the car tab rates, or raising a different tax (sales or property). Another would be change the date in which the old car tab taxes expire, as suggested here. Another would be use the new formula, but come up with the money a different way. For example, ST pays sales taxes on the equipment they buy. The state could waive this tax. This is similar to simply raising taxes state wide, but because it involves lower taxes, it is palatable to anti-tax Republicans (it is the same sort of bullshit that leads to tax credits instead of simply funding something).

But it is fucking insane to just take this money out. The voters approved this, warts and all.

25
"...taxing something at an inflated valuation is always going to be a political loser."

Nobody says that about cigarette or alcohol or marijuana taxes. But they're perceived as sinful, and they have a broader social impact than socks or rolls of masking tape, so the tax is acceptably much higher. It's childish to pretend that this formula for cars has to follow some arbitrary concept of fairness and proportion. It doesn't. Car culture created this transit problem. Car culture created insanely diffuse cities and exurbs that give us this transportation nightmare. Driving around in a huge expensive personal vehicle is no different than being a smoker. If you hate the high taxes on your vice, quit.

And then there's this: "Sound Transit says a 1-year-old car is worth 95 percent of its sticker price. Kelley Blue Book says the average 1-year-old car is worth only 70 percent of its sticker price."

That is not unfair. It's false to assume the tax rate should reflect the *resale* value. A one year old car is worth *at least* 95% of the sticker price, in terms of its use value, if you're going to believe it was worth its sticker price in the first place. The fact that one year old cars depreciate 30% in the first year is due to the psychology of used car buyers: outside eccentric rich people, the only reason you'd sell a 1 year old car is that there is something seriously wrong with it. No matter how perfect the car seems and how honest the seller seems, the suspicion that there must be some terrible secret makes it nearly impossible to sell a car for anything close to its sticker price so soon after you bought it.

If you insist that Kelly Blue Book used car values determine the tax value, then the *first* car tab fee is also too high. When a car is only one day old, it is not worth its sticker price any more. If you buy a new car and try to sell it the next day, you are not going to get 99% of what you paid for it. The market value is far lower merely because of the fact that you're selling it. If taxes must be based on the used car market value, then the initial car tab fee should be 80% of the sticker price, or less.

Similarly, when the car is two years old, it is still reasonably 89% of of its new value -- assuming again it really was worth the sticker price when you bought it. If it wasn't, then you shouldn't have bought it. But since you did, you've testified in the strongest terms that it is worth that. Two years later, it's not going to be falling apart. Does the used car market agree?

Of course not. Again, at two years buyers are suspicious of why you'd want to get rid of it. It's not easy to convince anyone to pay 80 or 90% of a new car's price for a two year old car, even if objectively it is at least 80% as functional. The fact that that is so close to the price of a new car affects the psychology of the buyer and they'd just a soon buy a new car for that. They want a steep discount if they're going to buy used.

As the years go by, it becomes more realistic that the owner would be ready to sell it, and the used prices fall closer into line with the actual value. But for the first couple years, the used market is skunked.

This is a great example of how markets don't work as advertised. People are indoctrinated in the fantasy dogma that markets have the magic power to determine the correct price of anything, so long as the government doesn't interfere, because... reasons. If all the actors in your market were homo economicus, then sure, you'd have a rational market and they'd pay 90 or 95% of the sticker price for a one year old car. But not humans.

So by keeping your one year old car, you're enjoying a good that IS worth at least 95% of the sticker price. There's nothing unreasonable about paying nearly as much in excise tax at one year as you did when you bought it. What's unreasonable is the used car market.

The Seattle Times headline should be "Used car market deflates car values; tab fees based on actual value".

The market dogma isn't going away any time soon. People are going to go on with their superstition belief that the 70% of sticker price that the market gives you for a 1 year old car is the "true" price, based on specious, circular reasoning, and blind faith. But look at the fucking car. Look at it. It's fine. It's has not lost 30% of its value in one year. Use your eyes. Use your common sense. That's how you break free of superstitious dogma. Compare the reality you perceive with your own senses with the absurdity that the market is telling you, and realize that the market's opinion is not the "true" value.

Sound Transit's formula is totally fair.
26
Christ you idiots. Civilization may well collapse within 100 years due to global warming and you want to gripe because the fucking train does not go from your front door to the front door of your workplace and you are being forced to pay something for the privilege of driving on subsidized roads and contributing to the aforementioned global warming.

We need to spend a lot more on public transit, not less. And yeah Range Rover driving, supposedly liberal hypocrites can afford to pay 'inflated' car tab fees.
27
Remember this when these jackasses pretend to be concern about global warming.
28
And this notion that if valuation for tax purposes doesn't precisely track market value, it's a horribly intolerable and unfair outcome has, as far as I can see, never been applied to property taxes. When we were looking for a house, the ratio between assessed value and market price varied wildly, and everyone just seemed to accept that. I've yet to see an explanation for why divergence between these two measures of value in cars is worthy of an outrage so great the will of the voters must be undone, but in the realm of real estate, all it provokes is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
29
Also jackkay at @18 is, once again, lying about Sound Transit. ST3 had majority support in Snohomish county:

http://www.snoco.org/elections/results/e…