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Morning update: Special session day 9

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 20, 2012 at 8:43 am |
March 20, 2012 8:49 am

State lawmakers welcome spring today while still working on the same task they started in the fall: trying to decide how to balance the budget.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday that budget writers were to meet again today at least once and look at an idea she gave them for finding some money — a new iteration of an idea she has been pitching for a while, although she won’t reveal publicly what that is.

Across the street from the Capitol, the state Transportation Commission will consider how much drivers should pay to cross the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

A citizen panel made up of residents from the west side of the bridge will present its recommendation that tolls increase by 90 cents for drivers with prepaid accounts, to $3.65; by $1 for drivers paying cash, to $5; and by $1.50 for drivers who don’t pay until they get a bill in the mail, to $7. That’s likely not high enough to avoid another increase next year, and the commission may want to go higher to avoid having to return to the lengthy toll setting process so soon.

If the commission endorses a level for tolls, it won’t be the last word. A series of public hearings are scheduled before the final decision May 21.

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