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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom says he would support an increase in the state's gas tax to fund road projects.

The Democrat from Medina told The Associated Press Tuesday that voters are more comfortable with tax hikes closely linked to upgrading important government services that cannot easily be provided by private industry.

Tom, who is now leader of a new majority coalition caucus of consisting of two Democrats and 23 Republicans, is a proponent of fiscal restraint and limited taxes.

However, he singled out transportation and education as two areas that we need to focus on and do them in a manner of excellence.

Tom said he hopes to increase education funding by cutting elsewhere in the budget.

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