Wash. House OKs $5 car tab fee to help parks - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wash. House OKs $5 car tab fee to help parks

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The House has passed a measure to add a $5 "opt out" fee to annual vehicle registrations to help keep Washington state parks open.

The measure passed on a 56-42 vote and now goes to the Senate.

Majority Democrats say it would not be a new tax, because car owners could check a box on their tab forms to opt out of the fee. Lawmakers hope the state could bring in more than $20 million for parks.

The state Parks Commission has said it may have to temporarily close or transfer dozens of parks because of budget cuts.

The tabs now generate $50,000 a month from the 1.5 percent of people who opt in. 

The money is generally used for repairs, providing maps in the parks, fixing benches, restroom repairs etc.  The total State Parks budget every 2 years is $150 million and includes the $50,000 per month from the tabs. 

If the opt out proposal passes and is signed by the Governor, it will generate about $1.2 million per month with roughly 50 percent of people donating or forgetting to opt out.

Republicans argue that requiring people to opt out is deceptive.

State residents currently can make a $5 donation to support parks by checking an opt-in box on their vehicle license forms.

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