Seattle Chamber of Commerce votes to oppose I-917

Endorsements

The Executive Committee of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce recently voted (on May 24th, 2006) to oppose Tim Eyman’s Initiative 917, which would destroy some $2.7 billion dollars of sorely needed, statewide transportation funding.

Recommendation
The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce unanimously opposes Initiative 917 (I-917), an initiative which will likely be before voters in November 2006. This initiative’s negative impact is far-reaching, threatening our region’s social and environmental health as well as its economic health. It would repeal the fee portion of last year’s $8.5 billion Transportation Partnership funding package, repeal much of the multi-modal funding allotted in the 2003 Nickel package, undercut Sound Transit’s ability to collect MVET, and strip RTID of its MVET authority, making it almost exclusively reliant on the sales tax and jeopardizing its ability to craft a balanced and successful package that would complete our region’s most at-risk projects. If approved by voters, the Transportation Revenue Forecast Council estimates that transportation revenue would be reduced by $2.7 billion over the next 16 years.

Background
Last year, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce helped lead a broad coalition of business, labor and environmental organizations to lobby the state legislature for a significant increase in transportation funding. The $8.5 billion transportation funding package that resulted was the Chamber’s number one legislative priority accomplished during that session. The package addresses unsafe and deteriorating roads and bridges throughout Washington State, and provides the multimodal infrastructure improvements that will ensure the safety and productivity of our state’s businesses and their employees. On July 13, 2005, the Chamber’s Board of Trustees opposed Initiative 912 which would have repealed the gas tax portion of that package. The Chamber played a central role in the campaign that successfully defeated Initiative 912. Initiative 917 would repeal the fee portion of this package as well as reduce other local revenues and funding options. Discussion Initiative 917 specifically: Reduces license tab fees to $30 per year for vehicles weighing 20,000 pounds or less. Repeals or reduces a number of fees including truck fees, vehicle weight fees & license plate fees. Removes a portion of the motor vehicle sales tax. Changes the vehicle valuation method for tax and fee purposes from manufacturer’s suggested retail price to a depreciation schedule based on purchase price. Repeals select local and RTID motor vehicle taxes and fees authorized for voter approval. Retires several outstanding bonds that have pledged the motor vehicle excise tax. Places major transportation improvements at risk, including: Viaduct, SR520, Sound Transit, and RTID.

Conclusion
The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce believes our region’s future economic health and the well-being of our communities is fundamentally linked to an efficient transportation infrastructure. The abilityto move people and goods through mass transportation and road improvements must be enhanced in ourregion to improve our economic vitality and quality of life. In addition, hundreds of hazardous bridges and roadways in Washington are in need of repair including the Alaskan Way Viaduct. This initiative would repeal critical transportation funding, therefore the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce opposes Initiative 917.

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