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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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Jim Vesely
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Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
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Lee Moriwaki
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Joni Balter
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Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
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Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
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Ryan Blethen
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March 02, 2005

McKenna on I-776

Initiative 776, passed in 2002, ordered the repeal of the car-tabs tax (MVET) collected by Sound Transit. The agency sued, and the courts ruled that it could collect the tax as long as it had bonds outstanding, because it had promised the bondholders it would collect the tax to pay them.

That was reasonable, because a public agency cannot break its contracts. But the court also left open the door to Sound Transit to pledge the tax to pay for new bonds, and that wasn't so reasonable. This issue was addressed in a call-in show with the new state attorney general, Rob McKenna. The transcript was printed in the Olympian.

Tim, calling in from Mukilteo: [Eyman, no doubt:]

Voter-approved I-776 said that Sound Transit should retire its outstanding bonds with its huge surplus and other existing revenues. Will you take a different direction than Gregoire did with the courts on I-776 and make Sound Transit pay off its debts?

McKenna: I am urging the state supreme court to accept on direct review an appeal of the King County Superior Court's decision that allows Sound Transit to continue collecting the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax not just for bond retirement, but for new bonds. Sound Transit should not be allowed to spend MVET revenue until those bonds are retired. Once those are paid off, they are not allowed to continue collecting that tax.

I think McKenna is right. The current bondholders can preempt I-776 because the promise to them was made before I-776 was enacted. But after they are paid the tax should be gone.


My columns on I-776 are here, here, here and here.

Reply to Bruce.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at March 2, 2005 04:27 PM



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