The Washington House Transportation Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Friday morning on ways to raise revenue for roads. Lawmakers will consider a gradual 10-cent gas tax increase over the next four years, as well as several local options to help counties pay for regional transportation needs. The proposed ideas deserve thoughtful — and cautious — consideration.
Weeks after Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, released a much larger package of ideas that raised plenty of eyebrows, she’s scaled down those plans to a few key points outlined in this news report by The Seattle Times’ Mike Lindblom. (He uploaded a summary of Clibborn’s revised proposal to DocumentCloud.)
There’s no doubt we need the money to preserve the infrastructure we have and to invest in projects that are critical to our state’s economic vitality. Increasing the fuel tax is a viable option, but lawmakers should weigh their decision against the likelihood that any increase will have consequences for someone, whether they be business owners or drivers trying to get to and from work. Extra money at the pump means less money spent elsewhere. At some point, we’ll probably have to have a substantive public debate about other revenue options that include the T-word. (Yes — tolling.)
Statewide funding ideas include:
- Raising the fuel tax by 10 cents over four years (5 cents in the first year; 2 cents in the second and third year; one cent in the fourth year)
- Increasing various weight fees
- Higher vehicle registration and title transfer fees
Local options in the package:
- Up to 0.3 percent sales tax increase for Community Transit with a public vote
- Authorize King County to increase MVET fees up to 1.5 percent with a public vote
- Giving councils authority to increase vehicle fees from $20 to $40
- At Pierce Transit’s request, allow sales tax rate to increase up to .9 percent with a vote
Earlier this year, the board published this editorial in support of local option fees for counties contingent upon voter approval. At the time, we asked readers to tell us in this poll whether they thought King County should have the authority to increase local fees. Opinion was split down the middle.
Let’s see how you feel about the prospect of paying more at the pump. Participate in our latest poll below: