How to know a Seattle liberal when you see one: They don’t like paying one of the only progressive taxes we’ve got.

I’m talking about the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, the MVET, which is based on how expensive your car is; the higher the valuation on your car, the more you pay.

In a bit of an uproar, after voting for the tax last November to fund light rail expansion, King County voters started grousing when they saw their MVET bills this year. The backlash forced their liberal Democratic reps in the state legislature to lower the tax this week.

The harsh irony* is that liberal King County voted overwhelmingly for the tax last year when they approved Sound Transit 3, a regional mass transit measure—a way to move away from our unwise commitment to cars.

Thanks to Seattle Transit Blog for their great, ongoing coverage of this issue.

*P.s. I’m using the word irony per its actual definition here…meaning: To say the opposite of what you mean. Liberals say they like progressive taxes. And liberals voted to support mass transit expansion. But guess what: “Not on my tax bill.”

Urbanist state representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34, W. Seattle, Burien) tried to remedy the situation by attaching an amendment to the bill that said Sound Transit has to cut parking garages first before knifing light rail to cover the $780 million direct hit in ST3 funding (and really about $2 billion when you factor in higher borrowing costs.)

The Urbanist blog, linking a PubliCola post I did late last year about lackluster voter support for the 8,300 new parking stalls in the ST3 package, said I’d think Fitzgibbon’s amendment was a “silver lining.”

I don’t, though. I certainly got a kick out of Rep. Fitzgibbon’s astute amendment for identifying the connection between scaling back car taxes and scaling back car infrastructure as a way to cover the revenue loss.

But ultimately, the sad reveal about fickle King County voters bums me out.

And really: I think it would be more fitting to prioritize cutting light rail first as a way to call out car-sick liberals on their hypocrisy.

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