Even a tiny bit of forward movement on any issue seems like a lot when budget negotiations in Olympia are stuck in neutral.
So it’s significant that lawmakers are talking about “agreement” on transportation taxes, even if what is agreed upon is not exactly clear.
House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn told a group of advocates from business, labor and other groups that 2013 is the year to pass a transportation tax package. “We have agreement on that in the Senate,” she told them.
She clarified afterward that she was talking about the result of recent talks in Yakima between her and the two Senate transportation leaders, Des Moines Democrat Tracey Eide and Yakima Republican Curtis King. All agreed that 2013 is the year to pay for the new projects, she said, with Eide backing her up. Both noted that there’s no agreement on what projects to fund or how to pay for it — through Clibborn’s proposed 10-cent gas tax increase or some other way.
Later, King said he remains a ‘no’ vote on any tax package. He reiterated what he has said all along, that voters have shown they don’t want higher taxes. But voting ‘no’ is the least of what King can do. He’s in a key position to block a proposal.
And it seems King has agreed not to stand in the way – if “certain conditions are met,” he says. One condition is Republicans’ opposition to the proposed Columbia River Crossing replacement project.
So, bottom line, did King really agree this was the year to act? Sort of:
Yeah, it probably would be best if it was this year, but there are a lot of things that have to be decided and agreements that have to be made. And then I have to talk to my caucus in regards to whether they would consider a revenue package and whether that package would have to have a referendum clause on it (sending it to a public vote). Obviously if we’re concerned about our ports, the sooner we get started on trying to keep them competitive, the better off we are.