June 25, 2013 at 11:53 AM
New details released on $10B state transportation package
House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn released details Tuesday of a new $10 billion transportation tax package that would increase the state gas tax by 10.5 cents per gallon.
Under the proposal, the gas tax would increase 6 cents per gallon on July 1 of this year and an additional 4.5 cents per gallon on July 1, 2014, Clibborn said.
In addition to the gas tax, the proposal would increase various weight and title fees, including a 15 percent boost in weight fees for freight trucks of more than 10,000 pounds. It also includes local option taxes, including a motor vehicle excise tax of up to 1.5 percent of vehicle value in counties with more than 1 million people, if approved by voters.
The package allocates nearly $3.3 billion for major projects including work on Interstate 405, Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90, and a new Columbia River crossing on Interstate 5. Nearly $1.1 billion of it would go toward preservation and maintenance of highways and bridges.
More than $500 million would go to support public transportation, and millions more would be spent on bicycle and pedestrian paths and safe routes to school.
Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, says she’s had assurances from Democratic leaders in the House that the transportation tax package will get a vote on the floor by Wednesday. She’s not sure if the Republican-controlled majority in the Senate, which disagrees with many provisions in the package, will bring it up for a vote.
The biggest area of disagreement is funding for the Columbia River crossing. Republicans oppose including light rail in the project, arguing, in part, that rail is a waste of potential road space.
They also maintain the addition of light rail restricts the height of the proposed bridge, making it too low for upstream companies to move cargo and equipment underneath.
Clibborn said she expects changes if the measure clears the Senate. “I’ve told my side it will not look the same,” she said.
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has said he wants lawmakers to remain in town until a transportation package is passed.
The Legislature also still has to negotiate and pass a state operating budget.
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