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November 12, 2013 at 7:51 PM
State Senate Republicans are willing to consider a gas-tax increase of 11.5 cents a gallon for highway and ferry construction, and even to allow new local taxes for King County Metro Transit, according to a proposal forged over the holiday weekend.
It would avoid the tolling of Interstate 90 to help pay for construction of the nearby Highway 520 floating bridge — by allocating $1.3 billion from new gas taxes toward the Highway 520 account.
The biggest project is still $1.66 billion for extensions of Highways 509 and 167 between Seattle and Tacoma, which are freight routes between seaports, warehouses and airports. There’s also $1.3 billion to widen I-405, $750 million for the North Spokane freeway, $390 million for Snoqualmie Pass East, $350 million for highways around Joint Base Lewis-McChord, $219 million to rebuild the Seattle ferry terminal at Colman Dock, and $1.05 billion toward maintenance. Here’s the project list.
King County could send to the ballot a car-tab tax increase of up to $150 per $10,000 of vehicle value, to be split 60 percent for transit and 40 percent for county and city roads. Other car-tab fees of $20 to $60 are also conceivable for county roads and transit. Not only that, but Community Transit in Snohomish County could ask voters for a sales-tax boost of 3 cents per $10 purchase.
The transit-tax option will likely please urban Democrats, but there’s a big sticking point. The Majority Coalition Caucus, consisting of Senate Republicans plus maverick Democrats Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, are also proposing that sales taxes on road construction be kept in the road funds, instead of flowing into the general fund. That would mean less money for schools, social services, environmental oversight or criminal justice.
And there are possible cost cuts around the margins, by reducing apprenticeship programs, watchdogging wage rates, and reducing environmental permit rules. The I-5 Columbia River Crossing is left out.
“Congestion relief” would be added to the state’s official transportation goals.
Whether this can pass both the GOP-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House is unclear. Committee meetings are expected next week.
The entire 10-year, $12.3 billion proposal phases in gas taxes the first three years, and requires $4.2 billion bond debt that would ring up interest costs for a couple of decades.
September 3, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Declaring that “our state’s transportation challenges are not going away,” Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday morning that he will call a special session for November to deal with the issue — if lawmakers agree on a package that can pass.
But the Democratic governor provided few details about how that might happen just a few months after the Republican-run state Senate rejected a package last session.
In a Seattle news conference with King County Executive Dow Constantine, Inslee called on lawmakers to “step up to the plate.”
Constantine said “the consequences of continued delay are unacceptable,” citing looming 17 percent Metro Transit cuts that could eliminate 65 bus routes, among other impacts.
A transportation package approved by the state House last session could have helped stave off those cuts by giving local governments the option of a 1.5 percent vehicle renewal fee. It also would have raised the gas tax by 10 cents to fund road projects.
The package didn’t gain traction in the Senate, in part over concerns about funding for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project.
On Tuesday, Inslee said the CRC should not necessarily block a new package because he and Oregon officials are exploring other options to fund it.
Inslee promised a bipartisan push for the package.
“There are no bridges that are either Republican or Democratic,” he said.
Later this month, Senate leaders are planning to embark on a “listening tour” to six cities to talk transportation with residents.
April 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A bipartisan group of state senators released a transportation budget proposal Wednesday that both sides call “bare bones.”
The $8.7 billion proposal, released Wednesday, puts $4.1 billion into maintaining and improving roads, banks $200 million in projected toll revenue toward the Alaskan Way Viaduct project and puts $1.2 billion toward servicing bonding debt.
The plan doesn’t include funding for the Columbia River Crossing necessary to trigger federal matching funds and doesn’t pay for linking state Route 167 and state Route 509 to Interstate 5.
Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, and Sen. Curtis King, R- of Yakima are the co-chairs of the Senate Transportation Committee. King and Eide agreed that more money could be put into transportation this year, though King said any new taxes should have the support of voters.
January 16, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee promised to bring “disruptive change” to Olympia in a wide-ranging inaugural address before a joint session of the Legislature. The speech touched on the state’s budget shortfall, the need to provide more money for education as well as gun control and other issues.
The address for the most part went over well-trodden ground from his gubernatorial campaign, but Inslee said he wants to start on a bi-partisan transportation package this session, sign the “Reproductive Parity Act” into law and dig into gun control.
“I heard a clear and powerful message on Election Day. The people of Washington state are tired of a state government that doesn’t change with the times,” Inslee said. “Today we begin a multi-year effort to bring disruptive change to Olympia, starting with the very core of how we do business.”
The Reproductive Parity Act mentioned by Inslee would require health-insurance plans covering maternity care to also pay for abortions. A bill has already been introduced in the state Senate, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens and Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.
“Washington women need the freedom and privacy to make the health care decisions that are best for themselves and their families. That’s why I look forward to the Legislature sending the Reproductive Parity Act to my desk, which I will sign.
Let’s get this done.”
Regarding guns and violence, Inslee referenced the recent shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. “Any failure to address the issue of violence in our communities and our schools will be intolerable,” he said. “In the coming weeks, I will work with the Legislature to address this crisis responsibly … Common sense tells us that this solution will involve mental health and keeping guns out of the wrong hands.”
On transportation, the governor said, “This session I expect to work with stakeholders that have already committed to a bipartisan plan to build an infrastructure for the next generation … I want us to turn our innovative spirit towards crafting a transportation package that includes roads, trains, light rail, buses, bike routes and other modes of transportation.”
Most of Inslee’s address dealt with familiar themes, reinvigorating the state’s lagging economy, creating jobs, health care reform, and climate change. There were few specifics on what he plans to do in those areas.
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