This picture is an aerial view of Interstate 82 in Yakima (courtesy WSDOT). It’s just one of dozens of projects that would be completed if the latest statewide transportation package is passed into law. But there’s a catch…it comes with an 11.5-cent gas tax increase.
That’s not to say it’s a no-brainer “no” vote. After all, the package proposed by the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) also includes landmark reforms that will streamline the state’s transportation system and save taxpayers millions down the road (so to speak). It will also keep the state Department of Transportation accountable for its mistakes and oversights, reduce the regulatory burden on transportation construction projects and ensure tolls are kept in the area where they are enacted, among other things.
The MCC proposal would fully fund two major projects in Yakima County: the east-west corridor overpass and bridge ($45 million) and economic development improvements to I-82 in Union Gap ($56 million). Continue reading →
On April 19 the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bare-bones, no-new-taxes transportation budget for 2013-15. Three days later the House Transportation Committee adopted a separate bill that would impose a 10-cent hike in the state portion of the gas tax over three years, and create or increase an array of other transportation-related fees.
The no-new-taxes nature of the transportation budget didn’t change as it sailed through the Senate (with a 46-1 vote) and the House (vote: 72-25) and on to the governor, who signed it May 20. Although the governor is still cheerleading for more transportation revenue, at least publicly, the reality is this: The Legislature can adjourn for the year without another word about transportation because we already have a new transportation budget in place.