A lot has been happening lately. Today I want to focus on one of the hot button issues: Transportation. I want to give you an opportunity to share your views about a proposed transportation package — a very important topic in Washington right now.
Where We’re At:
During the legislative sessions earlier this year, the Legislature did not pass a comprehensive transportation package because the one pushed by the Governor and Democrats in the House included tax increases without major reforms to how we spend the existing dollars allocated to transportation. I and many other legislators believe that we need reforms before we look for more revenue, and the package that was being pushed did not meet that requirement. In the end, there was no agreement for any transportation package.
Since then there has been a lot of discussion about transportation. The State Senate just finished up its tour of the state where we invited citizens everywhere to join forums to talk about transportation issues. The general feeling is that now is the time to address these issues, though there has been no widespread agreement on a plan as-of-yet.
Special Session Comes and Goes
With very short notice, a couple weeks ago Governor Inslee called lawmakers back to a special session. The reason was to work on a couple of priorities that Boeing wanted the Legislature to pass in order for them to be willing to locate the production of the next generation 777X airplane in Washington. One of those priorities we passed through the Legislature.
The other priority was a Transportation package. However, many of us in the Legislature did not want to rush something so important as a transportation package in a short special session, whether or not the Governor or Boeing pushed for one. So we did not pass any package.
However, after session ended, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, of which I am a part, has been making progress on its plan and negotiations are ramping up. And that is where we need your input.
A few facts about the Senate transportation plan as of right now:
- The total package is $12.3 billion
- It includes a gas tax increase of 11.5 cents
- It includes some our priority reforms, including ensuring that sales tax dollars from road projects would go directly into the transportation budget.
- Many major projects will receive additional or complete funding, compared to less funding in the House transportation plan put forward earlier this year. The Senate package also includes money for ferry boat construction that is important to our area.
Negotiations are happening this month so today I want to give you another opportunity to share what matters most to you in the discussion about transportation.