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.)More