Prospects look dim in the Senate, but Gov. Jay Inslee’s office says it’s not giving up on a transportation package that would raise fees and gas taxes to fund highway projects.
“If we had heard a very clear and unified “no,” then we’d be out having a drink right now,” said Ted Sturdevant, who as legislative director is the governor’s point man in lobbying the Legislature. He said some in the GOP-dominated Senate majority want the projects.
Indeed, no one will say the transportation tax proposal is dead. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom and Senate Transportation Chairman Curtis King have come close, saying it’s late in the session to work out $10 billion worth of disagreements and it’s time for lawmakers to go home once they pass a capital budget, which is still the subject of negotiations. Republican King has rebuffed Democratic efforts to negotiate since the House passed its version of the plan Thursday. Lawmakers are “dead tired,” he said.
But King said there’s still occasional talk about it in his caucus and the debate won’t be over until lawmakers adjourn. ”This whole package has been dead and alive and dead and alive, and until we sine die, it’s still there,” King said.
Business interests are lobbying Republicans, too. ”Businesses are very upset and I know they’re pushing really hard on that caucus over there to at least start dealing and talking about it,” Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs said.
In a sign of how unlikely it seems, the proposal’s main champion, Rep. Judy Clibborn, told the Associated Press tonight that it’s “time to let go” and give up on the package.
A little later, though, she laughingly described “being taken to the woodshed” for her comments by Inslee’s office, and said she would renew her efforts. She was so “disheartened” she “misspoke” earlier, not realizing the governor’s continued push, she said.