Taxation Transportation Washington State Politics

Proposed King County Congestion Fee is a Regressive Tax

In order to obtain emergency funding for public transit, the King County Council, specifically, Larry Phillips, has proposed a congestion fee of $20 to be charged for every automobile.  I am writing in strong opposition to this fee and hope that others will also oppose this regressive tax and testify at the upcoming hearings unless a poverty wiaver is added.  There are about 80,000 persons in Washington State whose unemployment benefits have run out and whose lives are in crisis.  Add to this senior citizens living on fixed incomes and keeping their old cars running.  And consider next all of the homeless who live in their cars. 

Although Phillips is a liberal councilman, he appears to be turning a deaf ear to the problem of charging an individual with a $200,000 income and a new luxury car the same tax as persons living below the poverty level.  This isn’t coming from the Republicans. This is coming from so-called liberals.



6 Replies to “Proposed King County Congestion Fee is a Regressive Tax

  1. You are correct that this fee is regressive. A progressive income tax would be much better. But without the fee, they say that 17% of bus service will be cut. This will make it hard for low-income workers to get to work. Even a group affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce supports the fee, since without bus service low-income workers won’t be able to get to work.

    Note that car owners SHOULD pay fees to offset their use of polluting vehicles. Bus riders are often lower income and are, in any case, environmentally laudable.

    So, I disagree with you. The fee is needed.

  2. People at the poverty level should not be charged the fee. There needs to be a waiver. What are they going to do if people can’t pay it? It shows how rich liberals are on a different planet from low income people.

  3. OK, so perhaps they can figure out a way to exempt low-income people from the fee.

    But realize: $20 is less than the cost of a single tank of gas. People pay thousands of dollars a year to oil companies. Can’t they pay a small fee to support public transportation?

  4. Most people are very strictly budgeting and limiting their gas expenditures and planning their driving. The comparison with a tank of gas is close to a welfare queen argument. Low incncome people are not filling up their tanks and driving all over the place. I personally only use my car in the local neigborhood and perhaps a couple of times a week and that is not atypical. And when the brakes are gone, they are gone and the car will sit in the parking lot.

  5. “Admin” has by far the better of this argument. In addtion to his comparison of $20 to a tankful of gas, there’s also the cost of required insurance. $20 annually — about 40 cents per week, less than the cost of a postage stamp — is indeed trivial for those who choose to own & use a car instead of transit.

  6. The comment by Foureyes shows the degree to which theoretical liberals are completely dissociated from the lives of senior citizens and unemployed 99ers. It is also not logical.

    First of all one cannot assume that everyone can afford to buy a tankful of gas. People are very carefully budgeting their driving and gasoline purchases. It is not common for people to only buy three or four gallons rather than fill up the tank.

    Many senior citizens have old cars paid for long ago and keep the cars in enough repair to get to the supermarket and the doctor and that is all. The same these days for many unemployed people.

    For unemployment benefits run out the resources to maintain any car ownership or insurance or questionable, even the resources to maintain a place to live are questionable.

    My neighbor upstairs lives on $1600 per month. She is in her late 70s. Within the past few weeks she went blind in the one eye she could still see in. Her car is in the driveway. I think the family is still keeping up the insurance, they haven;t sold it yet. It’s all too much at once. You could call her someone who “chooses to own a car” but a progressive tax means she shouldn’t have to subsidize people with a $200K income who drive to their second home on the lake to go out boating on their expensive boats.

    The same with people who are 1-2 months away from homelessness or the homeless people who live in their cars. Are they to be classified as choosing to own and use a car instead of transit.

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