Tom Warne Report, 2 April 2013
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gov. Jay Inslee said this week that a transportation funding package has to be a top priority for the Washington Legislature this year. In an Associated Press interview, Inslee said he fears the momentum for passing such a package is dwindling.
“We’re heading for a cliff on the condition of our roads and bridges,” Inslee said. “They’re reaching the end of their useful life.” Last month, House Democrats proposed a $9.8 billion transportation funding package that included a 10-cent gas tax hike and more than $3 billion in new borrowing.
Lawmakers from both chambers are said to be currently working on a smaller version of the package with House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, which she said she hopes will get enough support for passage. She said the bill would still rely on the gas tax and weight fees to generate funding but would cut the more controversial funding methods, such as tying the registration fees to the value of the vehicle and a $25 fee for bicycles costing over $500. These accounted for nearly $3 billion of the original proposal.
Gov. Inslee did not endorse specific parts of Clibborn’s proposal but agreed that the broad scope is in line with what he is looking for. He said the focus should be less on new projects and more on maintenance. He also said that he recently was informed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that the state of Washington would be jeopardizing $850 million in federal funding if the state did not put in its share.