2005: Initiative 912 | Overview

Viaduct Hazard Demonstration, October 2005
Viaduct Hazard Demonstration, October 2005

Summary: I-912 was a 2005 initiative fronted by right wing talk show hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson which unsuccessfully attempted to repeal a set of increases in the statewide fuel tax approved by the Legislature as part of the 2005 Transportation Package. Passage of I-912 would have wiped out billions of dollars in revenue appropriated for the improvement of Washington’s highways. I-912 was defeated by Keep Washington Rolling, a broad and diverse coalition of businesses, labor unions, environmental groups, and civic organizations, which included NPI’s Permanent Defense.

On the ballot

Ballot Title: Initiative Measure No. 912 concerns motor vehicle fuel taxes. This measure would repeal motor vehicle fuel tax increases of 3 cents in 2005 and 2006, 2 cents in 2007, and 1.5 cents per gallon in 2008, enacted in 2005 for transportation purposes. Should this measure be enacted into law?
Filed on: May 12th, 2005
Before Voters In: November of 2005
Sponsor:
Jane Milhans
Fate: Failed
Election Results: Yes: 45.38% (823,366 votes) No: 54.62% (991,196 votes)
Election Turnout: 82.23% (percentage of registered voters who voted)
Petition Drive:
  • 400,996 signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State’s Elections Annex (see qualification announcement).
  • Validation was conducted by random sample check. 12,224 of the I-912 signatures (a 3% sample) were checked. From that inspection, it was determined that the measure had an invalidation rate of 13.94%.
  • A minimum of 224,880 valid signatures were required to qualify an initiative to the people in 2005 (8% of turnout in 2004 gubernatorial election)
Complete Text: Available (PDF)
Ballot Summary: This measure would repeal a motor vehicle fuel tax rate increase enacted by the 2005 session of the Legislature for state-wide transportation purposes. The 2005 enactment provides that the motor vehicle fuel tax rate would increase by three cents per gallon in July, 2005, by three cents per gallon more in 2006, by two cents per gallon more in 2007, and by one and one-half cents per gallon more in 2008.

I-912 County-by-county election results

Counties that voted yes are shown in gray; counties that voted no are shown in purple.

See full breakdown (abstract in XLS)

Financing

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Data: Public Disclosure Commission | Chart: Northwest Progressive Institute

 

Explanatory statement

The following is the explanatory statement prepared by the Attorney General’s office in advance of the November 2005 general election.

The law as it presently exists:

The basic motor vehicle fuel tax rate is 23 cents per gallon applied to the sale, distribution, or use of motor vehicle fuel. In 2003, the Legislature added an additional 5 cents per gallon to fund a series of projects for which bonds were issued. This additional tax will expire when the bonds have been retired.

The 2005 session of the Legislature enacted a series of four “step” increases in the motor vehicle fuel tax (often called the “gas tax”) primarily to fund a series of public transportation improvements set forth in the biennial transportation budget. The “step” increases are: 3 cents per gallon effective July 1, 2005; 3 additional cents effective July 1, 2006; 2 additional cents effective July 1, 2007; and 1.5 additional cents effective July 1, 2008. The four increases add up to 9.5 cents per gallon. The revenue from these four increases is placed in a new transportation partnership account, after removing funds appropriated for administrative expenses of the motor vehicle fuel tax and special fuel tax programs and refunds, with one exception: approximately seventeen (17) percent of the net revenue from the first two steps is distributed to towns, cities and counties for transportation purposes. Money in the transportation partnership account may be appropriated by the Legislature only for projects and improvements identified as 2005 transportation partnership projects or improvements listed in the biennial transportation budget, including principal and interest on bonds authorized for those projects or improvements.

The effect of the proposed measure, if it becomes law:

Initiative Measure No. 912 would repeal the four “step” increases in the motor vehicle fuel tax as enacted by the 2005 session of the Legislature. If the measure were enacted, the tax would return to its pre-2005 rate, and revenue from the anticipated increases would not be available for the purposes for which it is earmarked, including funding the transportation projects and improvements for which the transportation partnership account was created.

Source: Archived Washington State Voter’s Pamphlet

Fiscal impact statement

The following is the fiscal impact statement prepared by the Office of Financial Management in advance of the November 2005 general election.

Summary of Fiscal Impact

Initiative 912 would over 16 years eliminate $5.475 billion in fuel taxes and net bond proceeds, eliminating 80 percent of funding for 265 new transportation projects specified by the Legislature. About $562 million in fuel tax revenue for cities and counties – for new, local-government transportation projects over 16 years – also would be eliminated.

Assumptions for Analysis of I-912

The Initiative repeals the phased-in, 9.5-cents-a-gallon increase in the state gasoline tax that is scheduled as follows: 3 cents a gallon on July 1, 2005; 3 cents on July 1, 2006; 2 cents on July 1, 2007; and 1.5 cents on July 1, 2008. The Initiative does not affect scheduled increases in the state tax on diesel fuel.

Over 16 years, the gasoline tax increases would generate $4.434 billion plus $1.041 billion in net bond proceeds – or 80 percent of the cost of 265 new transportation projects specified by the Legislature.

Eliminating the scheduled gasoline tax increases also would eliminate $562 million that cities and counties would have received over the next 16 years for local transportation projects. This revenue includes $482 million that cities and counties would receive as direct revenue distributions from the gasoline tax increases, as well as $80 million in grants to local government.


This information has been prepared by the Washington Office of Financial Management (OFM) in response to questions from the public concerning the financial impact of the initiatives listed below, all of which will appear on the November 2005 general election ballot.

The analyses are in addition to 100-word fiscal impact statements that OFM is required by law to prepare for inclusion in the Washington State Voters Pamphlet to be distributed this fall by the Secretary of State’s office. The following analyses are not intended as expressions of support or opposition to the proposed measures.

Main Provisions

  • Repeals the phased-in 9.5 cents per gallon gasoline tax increase portion of the 2005 transportation tax package. Repeals increases of 3 cents on July 1, 2005, 3 cents on July 1, 2006, 2 cents on July 1, 2007, and 1.5 cents on July 1, 2008.
  • Does not repeal the phased-in diesel-fuel tax increases of the same amounts, nor does it repeal the increases in weight or license fees.
  • Prevents the sale of bonds that would have been financed by the new gas tax.

Fiscal Impact Statement

Over 16 years, Initiative 912 would eliminate $5.475 billion in gasoline taxes and net bond proceeds, which is 80 percent of the funding for new transportation projects specified by the Legislature.

Repealing the gasoline tax increase would also eliminate approximately 80 percent of revenue to be distributed by formula to cities and counties, effectively reducing the 2005 Transportation Revenue Bill’s distribution of 1 cent of total fuel tax revenue to the equivalent of approximately 1/5 of 1 cent. As noted in the following chart, cities and counties will receive $120 million in direct distributions if Initiative 912 passes, compared to $682 million assumed in the 2005 transportation funding package.

2005 Transportation Revenue Bill (ESSB 6103) and I-912 Compared
Revenue in Millions of Dollars
16-Year Estimates

Sources
ESSB 6103
I-912
Difference
Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax
Fuel Tax Increase
$5,547 $1,114 -$4,434
Bond Proceeds 1
$5,100 $891 -$4,209
Vehicle Weight Schedule
Light Trucks
$341 $341 $0
Other Vehicles
$1,038 $1,038 $0
Licensing Fees
Vehicle Services
$227 $227 $0
Driver’s Services
$179 $179 $0
Sub-Totals
Debt Service 1
-$3,994 -$796 -$3,198
Interest Income
$38 $8 -$30
Total Revenue Generated
$8,476 $3,010 -$5,475
Local Revenue Distribution
Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Direct to Cities and Counties
$602 $120 -$482
Local Government Transportation Grants
$80 $0 -$80
Total Local Revenue Distribution
$682 $120 -$562

1Bond proceed estimates for ESSB 6103 are based on combined, estimated net motor vehicle and special fuel tax revenues. Bond proceed estimates for I-912 are based on estimated net special fuel tax revenue only. The amounts shown for bond proceeds and debt service are for illustrative purposes and represent one possible outcome. The actual amounts will be dependent on the timing of the bond sales and interest rate at the time of sale.

Assumptions for Fiscal Impact Statement

The initiative repeals the phased-in, 9.5 cents-per-gallon increase in the state gasoline tax that is scheduled as follows: 3 cents a gallon on July 1, 2005; 3 cents on July 1, 2006; 2 cents on July 1, 2007; and 1.5 cents on July 1, 2008. The initiative does not affect scheduled increases in the state tax on diesel fuel.

Over 16 years, the gasoline tax increases would generate $4.434 billion plus $1.041 billion in net bond proceeds – or 80 percent of the cost of new transportation projects specified by the Legislature.

Eliminating the scheduled gasoline tax increases would also eliminate $562 million that cities and counties would have received over the next 16 years for local transportation projects. This revenue includes $482 million that cities and counties would receive as direct revenue distributions from the gasoline tax increases, as well as $80 million in grants to local government.

Source: Archived Washington State Voter’s Pamphlet; Archived OFM website

Voter’s pamphlet argument against I-912

The following is the text of the argument that appeared in the 2005 voter’s pamphlet urging a no vote on I-912, including the rebuttal.

I-912 SLASHES FUNDING FOR ROADS, HIGHWAYS AND BRIDGES, DOES NOTHING TO RELIEVE CONGESTION.

Our roads, highways and bridges are crumbling; threatening our lives, leaving us stuck in traffic and wreaking havoc on our nerves and pocketbooks. I-912 drastically cuts funding earmarked to fix priority projects on Interstate 405, Interstate 90, US 12 and other roadways throughout our state. It offers no solutions for escalating congestion, it only makes matters worse.

I-912 PUTS CITIZENS AND THE ECONOMY AT RISK.

Highway engineers have declared 900 bridges in Washington to be obsolete or deficient. The Alaskan Way Viaduct and 520 Bridge will likely collapse or be rendered inoperable by another major earthquake, putting citizens at grave risk, striking a disastrous blow to trade and crippling our economy. I-912 guts a package that invests in every part of the state and creates thousands of private sector jobs.

I-912 IGNORES SAFEGUARDS THAT ENSURE OUR TAX DOLLARS ARE SPENT WISELY.

We need to protect transportation dollars. The state constitution mandates that gas tax monies be used for highways, roads and bridges. It is the only transportation funding source the Legislature cannot divert.
We are all concerned that our taxes haven’t always been used wisely. That’s why an unprecedented level of checks and balances – including extensive performance audits – is attached to new transportation dollars. You will get what you pay for.

Waiting won’t make it any cheaper. We must improve our roads and bridges now. Visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Funding/2005 to learn about projects in your area.

Save Lives. Reduce congestion. Create jobs. Please vote No on I-912.

REBUTTAL OF STATEMENT FOR

We have a choice – pay a few dollars more per month to fix our roads, bridges and highways, or just accept ever increasing congestion and more dangerous roads. I-912 eliminates funding for 274 transportation projects across our state. I-912 offers no solutions; only delays and increased risk on our roads. Protect your transportation dollars and you’ll get results: fewer bottlenecks; reduced congestion; safer roads. Please vote no I-912, it takes us in the wrong direction.

Source: Archived Washington State Voter’s Pamphlet

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