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Will voters be asked for transportation taxes?

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm with 4 Comments »
January 4, 2011 12:27 pm

While the Legislature will largely be shying away from taxes in the session starting next week, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown is open to asking voters for new revenue for transportation projects.

“That is a possibility for us, putting together something that has statewide economic development impact,” Brown said. She brought up the issue at a panel discussion during this morning’s Associated Press Legislative Preview.

She left open what taxes could go up, but in the past lawmakers have turned to gas taxes. Money raised by increases in the gas tax last decade, first by a nickel and then by 9 1/2 cents, has funded hundreds of projects but is now running out.

Among the “mega-projects” that would need new revenue to get off the ground is an extension of state Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma, but there’s no guarantee that would make a list of funded projects. Brown said she would want to make sure the North-South Corridor in her hometown of Spokane gets a piece of any funding, and that mass transit and other non-road projects get their share. She also mentioned stormwater cleanup projects.

The other three legislative leaders weren’t crazy about the idea.

Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt said the state doesn’t have the money and voters would be unlikely to let them take more. “I think it’s going to be difficult to get anything past the voters,” he said.

House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt was skeptical of a gas tax increase. “You just need to go to the pump and look at the price of gas,” he said. “Are you going to ask people to pay more?”

House Speaker Frank Chopp said House Democrats are “open to considering that, but we’re focused on the operating budget.”

And that may be the big hurdle: lawmakers have enough troubles on their hands trying to fix the $4.6 billion budget shortfall. Brown said after the panel she agrees that’s the top priority, but the state will need roads when the budget crisis has passed. “We’ve got to think ahead,” she said.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. Proconsul8 says:

    With gas widely predicted to see a national average of $5 per gallon by 2012, what in the world is Lisa Brown smoking? Washington already has some of the highest gas taxes in the nation and past increases have been frittered away in mass transit projects that have been no positive benefit to regional economic growth and must continue to be subsidized forever. Can she justify how the Alaska Way viaduct, so heavily damaged in 2001 has yet to see repair or replacement after millions have been spent in studies and squabbling? Does she remember a certain Initiative, recently passed, that again communicated the electorate’s distaste for tax increases during this non-recovery recovery? And hey, lets have more money for ferries?!

  2. truthbusterguy says:

    The Democrat party leaders in Olympia don’t get it. Please ask the voters so we can send you ANOTHER RESOUNDING NO!

    I am not surprised that democrats don’t want to vote on fee increases. They know it’s their doom if they do.

    Not one more penny to any WA state department until thay have reinvented themselves and running these departments like a business.

    Don’t they get it. We want to starve this beast and force them to change. It’s the only way we will get the change we want and need.

  3. dirtydan54 says:

    Don’t these brain damaged elected officials realize what their saying and who elected them? Obviously not because heres another one whos concern is we gotta build this or that so it provides a way to make money for the state.

    Iam so sick of their economic development concerns and plans on how to maximize tax revenue on our dime. We didn’t elect them for those causes and concerns but it is their highest priority.

  4. You can bet the Democrats will go after more gas taxes in the future! But they will present it in such a way that the voters will think it was it was the voters Idea. Very clever these Politicians, First they offer you a spoonful of sugar and after you get the sugar in your mouth,you find there is an equal amount of Castor Oil!Too late to spit it out,so you have to swallow it!

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