Bellevue Chamber Says NO to I-976

Opposition announced at luncheon with Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff

BELLEVUE, WA – The Bellevue Chamber today made public its opposition to I-976, the $30 car tab initiative, before a packed audience of over 150 business leaders at the Westin Bellevue. The event featured Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, who presented a detailed report on the status of Eastlink and the agency’s operations across King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

Chamber leaders made clear that the public concern over the motor vehicle excise tax valuation schedule currently being used by Sound Transit is genuine, and the price tag for the average taxpayer should not be easily dismissed. However, the Chamber says that I-976 is not the right solution.

The public debate surrounding light rail on the Eastside has been contentious, but current investments in rail and bus rapid transit funded by Sound Transit are needed to support the region’s explosive growth. The Chamber believe it would be a mistake to stop that work now.

Bellevue Chamber Board Chair John Milbrath cautioned against any backward progress on transportation infrastructure in our region, stating: “State and community leaders should be spending their energies envisioning the next round of these critical investments, not relitigating the last.”

According to Bellevue Chamber President & CEO Joe Fain, “I-976 is a blunt instrument, drafted in such a way that would disrupt local roads and transit solutions in many cities including some Eastside cities like Bellevue and Mercer Island. Blasting a $4 billion hole in the state’s transportation budget will reopen the compromises of the state’s 2015 transportation package, which is delivering needed congestion relief on roads in all corners of the state.”

The Chamber’s position was developed as part of its new Policy Council process. The council is made up of representatives from many small businesses as well as some of the largest employers in the region. It developed its recommendation after presentations from both Initiative sponsors and opponents at their inaugural meeting last week.

Fain continued, “While the Bellevue Chamber has had its well-reasoned differences with Sound Transit in the past, this ballot measure goes beyond those disagreements and could seriously slow or disrupt the growing prosperity of the Central Puget Sound. We urge our legislators to revise the motor vehicle excise tax valuation schedule to provide greater fairness and needed relief to our region’s hard-working taxpayers; but we ask Washington voters to soundly reject I-976.”