Sound Transit 3 car-tab debate reaches House floor

2017 legislative session • April 14, 2017 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Letter from Leadership 

The Current 2017-18

Dear Friend:  

Just nine days remain in the legislative session. The House had a lot of floor action the first four days of this week, and a pro forma session today on Good Friday with two committees meeting. We will not be working over the weekend as state lawmakers head back home to spend Easter with their families.

Next week

Next week promises to be busy. The calendar shows floor action every day, including committee meetings Tuesday through Friday. A lot of bills will cross the rotunda as the House and Senate negotiate the final details on legislation.

Special session?

Unfortunately, it's looking like there will be a special session. While progress has been made on the capital and transportation budgets, and several key issues, final negotiations on a McCleary solution and the operating budget will likely take us into overtime. If you are frustrated by this outcome, you are not alone. 

A team of House Republicans has worked hard since last summer to study the McCleary issue and vet ideas. We have been refining our solutions all legislative session. Reps. Paul Harris and David Taylor, who represent us on the education funding task force, are working hard to bring people and ideas together. You can learn more about some of our education-funding principles below. 

Capital budget  

The House passed a capital budget Wednesday on a strong 96-2 vote. Often referred to as the capital construction budget, this two-year plan focuses on education, mental health care and targeted projects in communities across our state. 

Our ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee, Rep. Richard DeBolt, was instrumental in crafting this budget and deserves a lot of credit. Richard's hometown newspaper recently published this article, which highlights his leading role and key state investments. The final capital budget will be negotiated with the Senate in the upcoming days.

Transportation budget

We also passed the transportation budget on Wednesday. It was the last bill of the day and carried us past 11:00 p.m. Our transportation lead, Rep. Ed Orcutt, sent out this news release. He did a nice job explaining why many of our members voted for the legislation, but also why we still have some concerns as the final plan is negotiated.

We tried to improve the transportation budget by offering 32 amendments, including solutions to lower Sound Transit 3 car tabs, eliminate I-405 toll lanes, hold Seattle accountable for Bertha cost overruns, and eliminate funding for a vehicle miles traveled pilot program. Only seven of our amendments were accepted. You can watch our floor speeches here.

Happy Easter   

I hope you and your family have a restful and happy Easter. We will talk again next week.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District
(360) 786-7967

Our education-funding principles

The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus and House Democrats have passed their respective McCleary and operating budget plans. There are now groups of state lawmakers, including House Republicans, negotiating final proposals.

These negotiations are complicated by the fact that House Democrats have failed to vote on their $8 billion tax package, which means their operating budget is unfunded and does not balance. In contrast, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus took the tough votes and have a fully funded proposal. 

It's unclear how long negotiations will take, but we will be at the table providing solutions and helping facilitate discussions. A group of House Republicans has been meeting since this summer to discuss education funding and teacher compensation. We have been vetting ideas and refining solutions since then. 

Below are our education-funding principles and what we believe could be an alternative framework for a final plan: 

  • No school district should receive less money under any new plan compared to current law.
  • Our state should increase state salary allocations to ensure all teachers are paid market rate.
  • Using new salary allocations, each district should have a “box” for total spending on salaries.
  • We value a transparent K-12 funding system, but also recognize the need to maintain formula-based inputs to demonstrate the connection between the state’s program of basic education and actual cost.
  • Local collective bargaining should be preserved, but subject to new constraints.
  • Local enrichment levies should be preserved.
  • Smaller K-3 class sizes should remain a priority, with funding tied to the actual class-size demonstrated. 
  • New tax increases should be a last resort. 

Not every concept above may be supported by each member of our caucus. We also understand there are four caucuses involved in negotiations and compromises will need to be considered. However, we think it's important to put forth solutions and ideas for consideration. Please stay tuned! 

Two very different approaches to the Sound Transit 3 controversy  

People in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties continue to experience sticker shock from inflated and unfair Sound Transit 3 car-tab fees. And they'll soon feel the sting of property- and sales-tax increases associated with the controversial measure that passed last November.   

The House passed a bill Wednesday that would provide minor car-tab relief for taxpayers. However, it's not enough. We explained why in our House floor speeches, news releases and social media this week.

We continue to support a stronger solution that would save taxpayers more money: Senate Bill 5893. Here's an example of how it would save someone more money: 

  • The motor vehicle excise tax for a 2017 Honda Accord EX sedan with standard equipment is currently $207.
  • Under Senate Bill 5893, and a striking amendment we offered to the aforementioned House bill, this amount would be reduced to $129.
  • Under the Democratic bill, this amount would be $176. 

This one-page brief provides a clear contrast on Republican and Democratic approaches to car tabs, the Regional Transit Authority board, communities opting-out of Sound Transit 3, split parcels, legislative authority on bonds, and constitutional concerns. Please consider sharing this information with others. 

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