The state Senate introduced an initial bi-partisan transportation package yesterday. Our state needs a transportation package to fund key projects and relief increasingly heavy traffic congestion, which cannot happen without a joint Republican and Democrat effort.
The compromise plan spans 16 years and will cost $15 billion. It includes an 11.7-cent gas tax increase to be implemented over three years. The proposal funds six mega projects in Washington and 58 regional projects. It also pumps nearly $1.5 billion into preservation and maintenance of existing roads and bridges.
Senate Transportation Committee chairman Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima said he understood that members of his own party are not happy with certain aspects of the bill (i.e. the 11.7-cent tax), but that “we can’t wait any longer to address our maintenance and preservation issues and address congestion.” While Democrats would be walking away with what they wanted, Republicans would walk away with big wins as well.
Republicans managed to include needed transportation reforms in the package. One reform would direct the sales tax paid on transportation projects back into transportation, instead of into the state general fund.
Republicans also included a safeguard against the possibility of Jay Inslee imposing a fuel mandate by executive order. The package includes a provision that would pull funding from transit if the state were to adopt a low carbon fuel standard. If the standard were adopted, “all non-bondable revenues — such as fee-based money going toward transit and bike paths — would instead be moved into the main transportation account.”
Inslee wasn’t too happy about the condition attached to the package. He wrote,
“Under the Senate plan, if Washington adopts a low carbon fuel standard to reduce emissions, we lose transit funding. As I’ve been saying, we must make progress on funding transportation and reducing carbon emissions this session.”
Makes sense Inslee wouldn’t like the package, it certainly places a wrench in his fuel mandate plans.