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UPDATE: Senate leaders say no to vote on gas tax hike that would fund SR-167-to-Tacoma

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on June 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm with No Comments »
June 29, 2013 5:12 pm
Sen. Rodney Tom

UPDATED 5 p.m. with procedural move and comment from the governor’s office.

Senate leaders pronounced a transportation funding package dead this afternoon as they worked toward adjournment of their second special session as soon as tonight. Democrats fell short in an procedural move to force the proposal to the floor.

That would mean drivers wouldn’t have to cough up an extra 10.5 cents of gas tax and the South Sound would wait another year for help restoring bus service, widening Interstate 5 along Joint Base Lewis-McChord and extending state Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma.

The Senate’s mostly GOP majority emerged from a meeting today with even transportation-package supporters like Puyallup Sen. Bruce Dammeier saying it would have to wait for another session. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said lawmakers would work on it with the goal of having a proposal ready next year that would raise money for projects while also making changes to the way the Department of Transportation spends money.

Top backers including Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. Judy Clibborn acknowledged the fight was over, saying Senate leaders have simply refused to negotiate or allow their members to vote.

“There are some in the majority coalition who do not want any transportation package and those folks are being catered to so that the middle cannot develop,” Inslee told reporters earlier in the day.

Inslee has been a vocal proponent of a package since taking office but Tom said the governor only recently became engaged, while refusing to back off on support for the Columbia River Crossing replacement that Republicans oppose over its light rail.

“If you’re going to have a transportation package, you need a governor — if you want this thing to pass — who’s going to get out front and get out there and lead, and we have not seen that,” said Tom, D-Medina.

Inslee’s spokesman, David Postman, called that an “outrageous” comment that ignores Inslee’s public and private push for a funding package and shows Tom has not given it serious consideration.

The only thing that we’ve seen from Sen. Tom and the majority coalition is them shaking their heads and saying no,” Postman said.

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