The public will vote Nov. 3 on whether to raise Washington’s gas tax, but its decision won’t change anything.
The tax will have already gone up by 7 cents a gallon by then. That’s happening Aug. 1 as part of an 11.9 cent increase approved by the Legislature earlier this month and phased in over a year.
It’s the centerpiece of the first transportation package in a decade, one that will raise $16 billion over 16 years to complete state Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma, widen Interstate 5 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and pay for other road work around the state.
Voters won’t have a say unless opponents collect hundreds of thousands of signatures, and then not until next year. So why the vote this fall?
It’s because of a voter-passed 2007 Tim Eyman initiative that requires advisory votes for all tax increases.
Voters will make nonbinding decisions this fall on a host of revenue-boosting changes involving marijuana, oil transportation, software makers, wholesalers, Internet sellers and more, Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced Thursday.
Initiative 960 also requires information on the taxes and their supporters and opponents to go in the voter pamphlet.
“November’s voters’ pamphlet will once again serve as a tax increase report card,” initiative promoter Eyman said in a statement Thursday. “Voters will learn which taxes were increased, what each tax increase will cost, and how each legislator voted on each tax increase.”
Eyman’s critics say no one should draw any conclusions from the results of advisory votes because they use loaded language to describe the taxes.
Each ballot question will note that the Legislature imposed the tax “without a vote of the people.”