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The incredible shrinking transportation measure down to $52 million in Senate

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm with No Comments »
February 6, 2012 5:21 pm

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s transportation task force called for $21 billion in spending over 10 years. Gregoire decided not to go for a gas-tax increase this year, but still called in her State of the State address for raising $3.6 billion mostly through fees — or is that taxes? — on oil.

But the Senate is now talking about millions, not billions.

The Senate Transportation Committee today advanced a few fees on drivers and vehicle dealers that have some measure of bipartisan backing. Combined with a proposed fee on electric cars, they would raise less than $800 million over a decade and just $52 million in the current budget period through June 2013. Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen called it a temporary fix.

The House Transportation Committee is still pursuing the charge on oil barrels, albeit in a stripped down form that would raise about half the revenue the governor proposed, and paired with a constitutional amendment to make sure it can’t be diverted away from roads. But Senate leaders say they don’t expect to have the votes for an oil fee.

In the fee package proposed in the Senate, the ailing ferry system would likely get the biggest share of the money, followed by the Washington State Patrol. Public transportation, state roads and local government would all get smaller shares. Haugen said the Senate committee wants to divide up the proposed revenue roughly the same way as a similar fee package proposed last year that fell just short of becoming law.

Among the fees proposed in the Senate that could affect drivers:

  • A $9-per-year drivers license fee, up from $5 per year.
  • A new $10 fee ($4 for motorcycles) on original issuance of a license plate.
  • A $12.50 fee for a title application, up from $5.


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