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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

March 7, 2013 at 5:41 PM

House Republicans call for changes before considering gas tax

House Republicans on Thursday called for the Legislature to enact a half-dozen “economic and transportation reforms” before they’d consider a House Democratic proposal to increase the state gas tax by 10 cents to pay for highway and transit improvements.

“We need to see how we can make our gas tax dollars go further before we reach further into taxpayers’ pockets.” Rep. Ed Orcutt, ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, said in a statement.

House Democrats rolled out a nearly $10 billion transportation package last month that would boost taxes on gasoline, increase car tabs and even charge a bicycle fee to raise money.

The Democrats’ proposal would increase the state gas tax by 10 cents over five years, eventually reaching a total of 47.5 cents per gallon. Washington currently has the nation’s ninth-highest gas tax. In addition, it would create a car-tab tax equal to 0.7 percent of a vehicle’s value — $140 for a $20,000 car.

Democrats control the House 55 to 43, and with the state Supreme Court ruling last week can now approve tax increases with a simple majority vote.

House GOP proposals include:

House Bill 1236, which would require state agencies to make a permit decision in 90 days or the permit is granted. Republicans say this would add certainty and eliminate unnecessary delays in the permitting process. Republicans say this would help create jobs and boost the economy.

House Bill 1986, which would require WSDOT to report to the Legislature on engineering errors and mistakes that exceed $500,000. The report would need to explain how it happened, who was responsible, what disciplinary steps were taken, and what actions the secretary of transportation recommends to avoid similar errors in the future, according a Republican fact sheet.

House Bill 1985 would eliminate state and local sales and use tax on new transportation projects.

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