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GOP-Business Alliance Launches Slick “Lower My Tabs” Campaign

Conservatives are trying to drum up support for bills that would cut Sound Transit tax revenue by $6 billion.

Washington state Republicans have launched a new public relationship campaign to drum up support for a bill that would change how much Sound Transit collects on car tabs.

Lowermytabs.com follows the typical pattern of campaign material, complete with clips of actors looking very frustrated at their tax bills, links to supportive news articles, and photos of politicians looking at manufacturing equipment (in this case Sen. Dino Rossi looking at what appears to be a printing press.) The site has a Facebook and Twitter account associated with it, both of which have only been active the last few days.

The site is paid for by The Leadership Council, a nonprofit registered under the name of Brent Ludeman, a business lobbyist and former executive director of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, is also listed as a “governing person.” The Leadership Council bills itself as “Washington’s premier business forum, helping to determine the course of state government.”

A call into Ludeman was not immediately returned.

The focus of the effort appears to be to drum up support for a bill being brought forth by Republicans that would require Sound Transit to use the Kelley Blue Book value of a car when assessing transit taxes. As is, Sound Transit uses the MSRP value, which is typically higher for new vehicles. With the $54 billion, voter-approved ST3 measure prompting a large hike in the car tab taxes assessed by Sound Transit, some taxpayers are calling for relief. Republicans in Olympia, already skeptical of Sound Transit, have been more than happy to oblige them.

However, Sound Transit officials say the change would cost the agency $6 billion, which in turn would put its planned projects at risk. Several members of the Sound Transit board argued at a Thursday meeting that the transit agency has an obligation to keep to its scheduled build out of light rail and other transit projects. Ergo, it shouldn’t change how much it collects in car tabs.

The bill to change car tab rates is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday at 3:30.

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