Legislature Gives Green Light to Statewide Package of Transportation Revenue, Reforms

SENATOR CURTIS KING

14TH LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT – WASHINGTON STATE SENATE

360-786-7626     |     800-562-6000     |     P.O. Box 40414 Olympia, WA 98504-0414

OLYMPIA… After years of discussion, statewide listening tours and heated negotiations, the Legislature passed the final bills that make up the new $16 billion transportation package with a broad bipartisan vote today. The suite of 12 reform and revenue bills now headed to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature will provide over 100,000 jobs, congestion relief and improved roadways statewide.

Sen. Curtis King, Senate transportation-committee chair, is pleased that cost-saving transportation reforms called for by the people of Washington had remained part of the final package.

“The reforms built into this package are groundbreaking. For the first time the sales tax that’s being charged on our highway projects will be returned for use on transportation work instead of being siphoned off to the general fund. There are changes to streamline our state’s ferry construction, improved permitting processes and much more,” said King, R-Yakima. “People who understand the complexities of transportation projects know these reforms will truly transform the way projects are managed by our state’s transportation department. There will be greater accountability and taxpayer dollars will be stretched further than ever.

“We also stopped the implementation of a low-carbon fuel standard. That’s huge,” King said. “This unnecessary and arbitrary charge with no environmental or transportation benefit would have raised the price of gas anywhere between 70 cents to well over a dollar a gallon. This would be a huge hit to the pocketbook of every citizen in our state and negatively impact our economic vitality.”

The final transportation-revenue package will devote $8.8 billion to new construction and $1.4 billion to maintain and preserve roads and bridges across the state. The previous transportation-revenue package approved by the Legislature, in 2005, allocated no money for maintenance and preservation. The primary source of revenue will come from an 11.9 cent-per-gallon gas-tax increase, phased in over two years.

“No one wanted to ask the citizens of this state to pay more at the pump, especially me. But we have reached a tipping point where our state’s crumbling roadways and aging bridges need to be repaired, congestion relieved and goods need to be able to get to market reliably. Continuing to delay improvements is not only costly, it is a safety issue as well. There are over 140 local projects funded and completed in this package. Nearly every project was strategically selected for maximum economic return. There is something that will benefit every part of our state in this package,” said King.

The package also includes money for ferries, rail and the Washington State Patrol. Sound Transit, operating in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, received the authority to seek voter approval for $15 billion in future projects.

“This package took the long way to the governor’s desk. Like many road trips, there were also some unexpected stops and bumps, but now I can look back and really appreciate the journey. Negotiations are about the art of compromise and this package is truly a reflection of that principle. There was one compromise I was unwilling to make, however, which was to go against the mandate from the people of Washington who told me they’d be willing to invest in our transportation system, but only if substantial reforms were included,” King explained. “I’m pleased to deliver a package that not only meets that expectation, but goes even further.”

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