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Plans identical on bridge costs; Shrinking Tacoma population count requires budget tweak

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
March 28, 2011 4:53 pm

House members made a number of changes before overwhelmingly approving their version of the transportation budget late last week.  I wasn’t able to get an item onto the blog at the time, so here in bulleted form are some highlights of changes (and some suggested changes that didn’t make it):

  • House members added an order that the state must “hold harmless” the Tacoma Narrows bridge from any increases in state toll expenses. This is the same language that is in the Senate version of the budget, so barring unforeseen opposition by the governor it will become law. The House approved the amendment by Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, with no opposition.
  • Lawmakers kept in the budget an extension of the HOT lanes pilot project for an extra year. They turned down an amendment by Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, that would have canceled the extension and spent $766,000 less on the project.
  • Another amendment that was rejected on the floor came from Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley. It would have required local votes before cities could put up automatic traffic cameras. Democrats voted it down 45-50, saying the transpo budget wasn’t the place to decide that policy. All Republicans from Pierce and south King County and Rep. Troy Kelley, D-Tacoma, supported the amendment; all other local Democrats opposed it.
  • Also related to traffic cameras: The budget extends for two more years a pilot project that allows Seattle and Tacoma to each put up a single traffic camera to catch speeders outside of school zones. As legislative proposals often do, the budget that came out Monday avoided direct mention of the two cities but referred to “cities west of the Cascade mountains that have a population over two hundred thousand.” Whoops: The state used to think Tacoma had more than 200,000 people, but the official Census number came in just shy of that mark. Lawmakers amended the bill in committee at the suggestion of Rep. Connie Ladenburg, D-Tacoma, to bring the threshold down to 195,000, keeping Tacoma in.
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