Eight-Cent Gas Tax Hike Proposed by King County Executive

Dow Constantine and the Sound Cities Association, which includes Kirkland, are asking the state legislature to help "solve our statewide transportation crisis."


King County Executive Dow Constantine has joined other local officials in asking the Washington State Legislature to raise gas taxes to help pay for upgrades to the state's transportation infrastructure and provide additional transit funding in the county.


What do you think of the proposed increases? Tell us in the comments section.


In a Dec. 14 letter posted on the news website PubliCola, Constantine, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Renton Mayor Denis Law, representing the Sound Cities Association, propose an 8-cent increase to the gas tax as well as the ability for counties and cities to raise their car-tab fees by $40. Law serves as president of the board of the Sound Cities Association, which includes Kirkland City Councilman Bob Sternoff. The letter, addressed to Gov. Chris Gregoire, cites a "statewide transportation crisis" and asks for additional revenue to "preserve and maintain our portion of the State’s transportation system and address the growing demand for transit services."

Click here to read the entire document.

David Aamodt December 26, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I think Dow Constantine and his ilk are intoxicated on their own rhetoric! We don't need more taxes, we need fewer public employees...for starters. I wonder if Dow Constantine could hold a meaningful job in the private sector.
Kirkland Tony December 26, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Waitasec... Aren't King County and the State currently proposing a tax ($100/year) on electric cars because gas taxes are unfairly subsidizing non-gas vehicles? (Which really just would bring electricity in compliance with RCW 82.38, which has a special tax for other non-gasoline vehicle fuels.) And let's be clear, gasoline is over-taxes already. $0.375/gallon state, $0.184/gallon federal, $0.0019/gallon federal oil-spill fee, $0.001/gal federal liquid underground storage tax (really!), $0.001/gal Washington state oil spill tax, 12% of the wholesale price in additional federal (excise-level) taxes, 0.7% of the wholesale price in addition for the Washington Hazardous Substances Tax. What else do you pay greater than 30% in taxes on?
Michael VanLoon December 26, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Another tax to pay for public transit and roads. Who would have guessed? It must mean another year has come around. Let me guess: this is an emergency! It's a one-time thing. We won't need to do this again in the future. in fact, we'll probably be able to repeal it in the future when finances are in better shape. It's different this time! Uh huh... sure.
Art Valla December 26, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Hmmm.... Dow Constantine is spending $375,000 per MONTH to subsidize the Alki Passenger Only ferry that duplicates an existing Metro bus route. And he needs more money..... Hey Dow, I can think of a lot of places to start looking to cut spending. BTW, you raised property taxes 1.5% in an "emergency" to build dikes when the Howard Hanson dam was threatening to fail. Well, we got the dam fixed and you never built the dikes. How about giving us back our 1.5%??????
Jeff Hoerth December 26, 2012 at 09:39 PM
We already pay the sixth highest amount of taxes on gasoline in the country according to the American Petroleum Institute. Like the sales tax, tax on gasoline is a regressive tax. The state needs an income tax and needs to link it to a reduction in the sales tax. All the different taxes and levies at every level of government are combining to pull the middle class down and hurting small businesses which rely on consumers spending disposable income.
Greg Johnston (Editor) December 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Jeff, my mom (mostly a Democrat) and my dad (a Republican) were saying basically the same thing 50 years ago. But it couldn't happen then and I don't expect to see a state income tax in my lifetime, particularly since Democrats and Republicans are rarely together on anything anymore.
James Banks December 26, 2012 at 11:44 PM
When I was a young kid I noticed that most of the older men who visited our house griped about taxes. My mom would leave the room when conversations took that turn, and my dad mostly just listened. One time I while we were riding in the car I asked my dad (a WWII combat vet) why those men complained about taxes all the time. He said they were ungrateful and selfish, and continued, "I'm thankful that I'm able to live in this great country, and I'm proud to pay taxes to support what we have have here." I've followed his example, and am also proud of my community and country, and consider it a priviledge to pay what I owe. Of course there are public expenditures I don't agree with sometimes, but don't use them as an excuse to vote against schools, roads and other needed infrastructure that I use (and often don't use) for the greater good. My dad's generation built and paid for the interstate highway system, something that would get voted down today, because they were willing to pay higher taxes to improve the country they inherited and defended. I'm ashamed of my generation which turned out to be too spoiled and selfish to do anything of significance in terms of public works. Our infrastructure is in shambles and getting worse, all because of nutcases like Tim Eyman running the show around here. Expectedly, the tax gripers are out in force in opposition to a small gas tax to build and maintain roads, so they can drive their 3 ton gas guzzling SUVs on them.
Jeanne Large December 26, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Jeff, Thank you! You've done the 3rd grade math. Yes, our gas tax is high and so is our sales tax. Our B&O taxes are hard on small businesses. With no income tax, Washington is a great state to have a medium or hign income that you can invest, save or spend out of the country. It's a terrible place to have a low income and where you have to spend and pay sales taxes on most of what you earn. Regressive is a nice word for it. Greg, It's time for all of us, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, to come together and make some responsible decisions to support transportation, education and other important public services. I'd like to pay my fair share. And, I'd like to leave this place as good as it was when I was growing up.
Kirkland Tony December 27, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Your message tells me that you probably vote Democrat and you don't own a small business. The citizens have watched. And learned. We cannot TRUST an income tax. Politicians aren't trustworthy, and whether you object to how he phrased it, Romney's 48% (or whatever it was) of effective tax leeches cannot safely be given the keys to entitlements linked to income taxes. One of the few virtues of the sales tax is that it ensures everyone has skin in the game. The CBO's (decidedly anti-Republican) 2012 stats states that “the bottom 20 percent of American earners paid just three-tenths of a percent of the total tax burden, while the richest 20 percent paid 67.9 percent". Now, that IS Federal, not state, but maybe you should consider how lopsided that is. The top 20% paid 2/3s of Federal taxes, while the bottom 20% paid nothing. What we NEED is reform. Entitlement reform, spending reform, regulatory reform, tax simplification. We don't need more income taxes allowing freeloaders to steal from us working schleps.
Kirkland Tony December 27, 2012 at 12:30 AM
James wrote, "I'm ashamed of my generation which turned out to be too spoiled and selfish to do anything of significance in terms of public works." James, how do you feel about the huge number of people too spoiled to work for a living? The fact that disability claims have doubled in 15 years (according to the Social Security website, in their Disability section), despite injuries having gone down? The massive increase in fatherless children, in dropouts, etc.? Effective taxes are the highest they've ever been. (Marginal rates were higher 65 years ago, but they topped out far higher in adjusted dollars than they do now, so the effective rate now is about 22% vs about 18% then.) And you kvetch that we should pay MORE? How about addressing the problems of WHY taxes have steadily (with a break in the 80s) gone up instead.
David Aamodt December 27, 2012 at 12:33 AM
If you've ever owned a business in the state of Washington and had the "honor" of having an audit done by the State, you quickly find out that there are people working for our state government that could never get and retain a job in the private sector. There is little to no accountability with State employees...and I can attest that the loser who did our business audit should have been fired years ago...however, again, there is no accountability at the State level...as my mentor used to say, "some people rise to the occasionk, others lower the occasion." That is exactly is what state employees do (or should I say do not do). Let the people that ride the ferries and ride the buses pay for the services...I do not care to payfor and subsidize something I've never used. The State of Washington just through sales tax alone makes more money from my/our family business than we do...and we're the ones taking the risk. The B & O tax should be abolished, as that too is a confiscatory tax on top of the nearly 10% sales tax that we collect for the state.
James Banks December 27, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Tony, I'm not at all bothered by my taxes going to support the disabled, for whatever reason. It's a very small part of the big picture, but one you choose to focus on to justify your selfishness. As a small business owner for over 30 years, taxes have been the least of my problems. One year (1999) I paid $52,000 in personal income tax and didn't begrudge the USA one penny of it because business was booming and I had lots of money after taxes. People who blame taxes for business failures don't have their eye on the ball, are sweating the small stuff. So anyway, thanks to you tax gripers for proving my point: There will never be a tax climate to suit you, ever, in your life, so you'll continue to vote against schools and other infrastructure because you're to selfish, pennywise and pound foolish.
Kirkland Tony December 27, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I paid over that just last year, James. These aren't "small parts" of the picture. They are why I left a previous state - the taxes made working hard to earn more, well, worthless. There are several great possible tax climates. A flatter tax system would be a good start. As I said, ensure everyone has skin in the game. That's just not what we have right now.
James Banks December 27, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Congratulations Scrooge for being filthy rich, and with a flat tax you'd be able to keep more of your money, and the poor who work at crappy Walmart jobs would be able to take home even less.
Russ December 27, 2012 at 03:21 PM
David Aamodt. You seem to forget that all those services you don't use benefits you greatly. Just think what the roads would be like without all the "schmucks" on buses. Or how goods would get to the ports and markets. How brilliant we'd be without education or if your customers could afford your services. Just goto Mexico and see for yourself.
Kirkland Tony December 27, 2012 at 05:40 PM
James, if you can do it without the invective, tell me where it ends. I'm hardly a Scrooge. I pay massively in taxes as you already know, plus I give 8% roughly each year away. And I do a lot of volunteer work. None of that is "Scrooge"-like. But you want more. So how much do you want? When is it enough? Should the extra rewards I get for having put myself through school, started companies, slaved in the corporate grind, etc., be seized in the name of "fairness" so that some kid who partied in high school and didn't even bother with college has the same financial situation? How much do you want to take? How much is enough?
James Banks December 28, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Tony, you can deduct what you "give away" to bonafide charities from your "massive" income taxes, so that doesn't count for anything. How your money is seized to subsidize some kid so his wealth equals yours is a mystery...how does he get it? Where do I sign up? I'm sorry for you if that's the case, you truly are a victim.
Kirkland Tony December 28, 2012 at 04:50 PM
James, I'm finding your conversational approach challenging, because you seem to avoid the issues and dive right into insults and accusations at the expense of facts. For example, when I donate money, I don't get that amount off my taxes. I just don't pay taxes on that amount. In theory, as a taxpayer, you KNOW this, but you ignored it for the sake of a cheap insult. Similarly, you have ignored the straight-forward question. May I request that you not respond with more childish insults about income disparity or fairness? Just tell us what WOULD be fair. Do you yearn for the marginal tax rate in 1975 Sweden of 102% - when Astrid Lindgren's top earnings cost her more than they made her? What tax rate would be enough that you would no longer envy and insult people who don't want to pay more? - How much (in taxes) is enough? -
James Banks December 29, 2012 at 07:57 AM
Let's restore the tax rates in effect during the Clinton era. The economy was excellent, employment high, and a budget surplus. May I say that you also indulge in childishness, whining about the taxes you pay? Wah, wah, wah. By your own claim, you have more than enough money to afford to pay what you owe. Your extreme Sweden example is silly, yet another attempt to portray me as a communist or a thief. Believe me, I don't envy you and your money at all, because I can't imagine living my life as a selfish conservative who hates the working poor...and the social safety nets that keep ordinary people from being destitute because of getting old, illness or other misfortunes beyond their control. You are the one who started this thread insulting people, but you obviously can't take what you dish out.
Kirkland Tony December 29, 2012 at 03:02 PM
James, my example wasn't silly at all. Until your last post, you had evaded the simplest of questions. You still haven't actually ANSWERED it, but you've gotten closer. The Clinton era tax rates were fine... and are effectively much lower than what 2013 will see with all the new taxes and regulations (especially on health care.) This new tax proposal (remember the topic of the thread?) is an additional tax not there in the Clinton era. Gas taxes were lower in Washington then. (Car tab fees were higher though.) How much of this do you even know? You seem so quick to dish out insults, and yet you demonstrate so little knowledge of even your own suggestions! BTW, I don't "hate the working poor", but I do have a strong aversion to the NON-working able-bodied recipients of government aid. You appear to have an aversion only to people who earn actual money.
Art Valla December 29, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Should we compare tax rates to past rates? Let's go back to 1970, just for fun. The income tax rates were much higher. Some local taxes, relative to the price of goods were much higher, too. Gasoline tax was 13 cents per gallon (state and federal combined). But the price of gasoline was 25 cents per gallon - a 50% tax! Sales tax was 5.6%, but food and prescription drugs were taxed, too. You have to look at the whole picture when comparing tax rates. You also have to look at government services. We spend a whole lot more for local and state government per capita now than we did back then - even proportional to income. We get more, too. For example, back in 1965 there were only two (2) King County police officers on duty for the entire county on the grave yard shift. And that was before all the little towns incorporated. Comparing times and taxes has to be holistic. We get much more government now than we did then. Personally, I would much prefer to go back to the rates and level of services we had in the 70's. But that is just me. I don't need much support. Other people are not as self sufficient nor in as good a health as I am. And people demand more. We just had a major storm on the east coast. Look how the people whined and cried about losing power for a week or two! Oh my, the bridges and roads were closed! Back 40 years ago, this was normal and people coped with it. Not today. And we pay the price in higher taxes.
James Banks December 29, 2012 at 11:43 PM
If the oil companies jack up the price by $.80 per gallon, we just pay it, but if it gets taxed a lousy 8 cents extra it's a big deal. How else are we going to fix Tim Eyman's roads? So the bottom line is you're too cheap to spend 8 cents until the various other things government does that you don't like are stopped. That gives you a permanent excuse to say no to everything forever.
Kirkland Tony December 30, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Art, the percent tax is multiplied by the people, but that's not the only factor. The top marginal tax rate was higher in 1945, but it kicked in so high, and with such large deductions, that the EFFECTIVE tax rate was 18% rather than the current 22%. It's the EFFECTIVE rate that matters. Not just that the top rate be, say, 60% (though certainly it should be lower than that, lest you risk discouraging incremental productivity), but rather what the REAL rate is when applied after deductions and upon reaching the rate it kicks in.
Kirkland Tony December 30, 2012 at 04:28 AM
James, you still duck, dodge and weave. I'm not too cheap to spend 8 cents. I'm spending, as I documented in the second post OF THE ENTIRE THREAD (God, I hate illiterate degenerates such as you) that we're paying 37.5 cents on the state plus another roughly 14 cents state and more on federal. The problem is that you will never have enough. You want this more 8 cents... on top of the not insignificant current taxes. And then someday you will want, claiming again fairness, another five cents. And then another dime. You are dishonest and never satisfied. And when caught on it, you resort to cheap accusations rather than facing your own short-comings and pathetic weaknesses.
Art Valla December 30, 2012 at 06:01 AM
My biggest complaint about Dow's 8 cent gas tax is that it is both non-specific and does not carry a termination date. Dow is notorious for collecting taxes for one "emergency" and then spending the money on another project - without any accountability to where the money comes from or where it is going. For example, the emergency 1.5% increase in property taxes was supposed to pay for the dikes and levies. Instead, the money was used to create the King County Navy. But there was too much money. So he gave $60M of it to Metro Transit without any strings attached. Just a free check. Then he gave $30M to Seattle for their new sea wall. Now, because it was an "emergency" we didn't get to vote on it. Whoopee! Free Money to throw at any project he wants, without any time limit, without expiration, without any accountability. Now he wants an 8 cent gas tax. But no limits on what he spends it on. Whoopee! More free money! No rules or accounting! Dow can throw it at any thing he wants! This is not the way to run a government. This is not the way to raise taxes. However, this is the way to get secret backroom deals and create an opening for political criminal activity. We have a constitution in this state that says all gas taxes MUST be spent on highways. Not transit, not light rail, not ferry boats, not buses. Highways - for cars and trucks. Period. Dow would like to violate that section of the constitution - and that is wrong.
John L Peterson January 05, 2013 at 03:23 AM
adly the 24.9 cent price ( taxes included) per gallon for 100+ octane in my youth are history. If King County approves the increase, I only have simply to travel ten blocks north to be in Snohomish County and ergo not subject to this tax. I am sure that many individuals live close to adjacent counties and if they also get their fuel out of King County. That scenerio might just result in loss of revenue for King County.
Kirkland Tony January 06, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Yes, the Woodinville Costco is actually in Snohomish County... by about four blocks, in the "Town" of Grace. For good reason. We usually buy gas at the Kirkland Costco. (This is Kirkland Patch, after all.) But we're up in Woodinville roughly weekly and will readily switch our habits to save $70 per year.


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