Gov. Jay Inslee is making a renewed push to get lawmakers to pass a transportation budget. Washington was left without one after last session when it wasn’t even brought up for a vote in the state senate.
King County says without a budget, its transportation department will start having to make drastic cuts, such as closing bridges that can’t be repaired and reducing or eliminating two-thirds of Metro bus routes.
“There are no bridges that are either Republican orDemocrat, they’re just Washington bridges,” Inslee said at a news conference Tuesday morning.
He was joined by King County Executive Dow Constantine, who elaborated on the county’s proposal to raise enough money to maintain services.
Here are the three funding tools King County, Seattle, and the Sound Cities Association are proposing:
- A statewide gas tax increase of 10 cents per gallon
- Give local authorities the ability to double an annual vehicle fee to $40
- Authorize counties to impose a 1.5% renewal fee based on the value of your vehicle. This fee would generate an estimated $140 million in 2014 according to King County.
More information on the proposals can be found here.
King County Road Services says it has 30 percent less revenue than before the recession because property values, on which taxes are assessed, fell and have not recovered.
“It’s critical that it happen this fall, because we’re at the point where we need to make decisions on what to keep open and what to close,” said Brenda Bauer, who is in charge of King County Road Services. “It puts our communities at risk, it puts our economic development at risk, and I think it puts our state at risk.”
The new fees would generate hundreds of millions of dollars that would be divided among the state, counties, and cities.
“They’re not underfunded, I think they need to find ways to operate within the ample tax revenue they receive,” said Bob Pishue of the Washington Policy Center.
Pishue advocates for transportation departments to seek out efficiencies, instead of increasing what’s already one of the highest gas taxes in the country.
Inslee says he would call a special session to pass a bill as soon as November if he feels the votes are there.
The Majority Coalition Caucus, which the governor said was partly to blame for the budget not passing earlier this year, responded in a statement saying that any transportation bill needs support from both sides.