The odd thought occurred to me that if the Seattle Monorail gets bonded and built, and we end up paying the 1.4% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) for the next five decades or so, one of the people we’ll most have to thank (or blame) is none other than… Tim Eyman.
Think about it. Timmy’s career-making initiative, I-695, eliminated the state’s 2.2% MVET… clearly an unpopular tax. The Monorail initiative barely passed as it was; if the state MVET had been left in place, it seems highly unlikely that enough voters would have approved such a large increase in their already spendy tabs.
My own car tabs are illustrative. The state apparently values my car at about $12,666 (though Edmunds.com tells me I’d get only $9,383 in a private sale.) If I-695 had never passed, my car tabs would be as follows:
$ 0.75 Licensing Service and Technology Fee $ 3.00 County Filing Fee $ 38.00 RTA/Sound Transit Fee $ 23.75 State registration renewal fee $279.00 State MVET _______________ $344.50 Total
That’s a pretty steep car tab for what I’m guessing is a pretty average car. At my car’s current (supposed) value, the Monorail tax would add another $177.00 — a hefty 51% increase — for a grand total of $521.50. That would be like paying 5.6% of the value of my car… every year!
In that context, I just can’t imagine Seattle voters approving the Monorail’s 1.4% MVET. I’m not saying voters definitely wouldn’t have approved a Monorail proposal… just that the Monorail’s backers could not have relied so heavily on the MVET if Eyman had not first zeroed it out with I-695. If the old state MVET had still been in place, backers would have been forced to propose a more reliable tax base, and the Monorail’s budget shortfalls may never have occurred.
So whether your main concern is the Monorail’s shaky financing… or the Monorail itself… one thing we can agree on is that really, it’s all Tim’s fault.