Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for allowing me to serve as part of your 47th District legislative team. As the assistant ranking member of the House Transportation Committee, I would like your feedback on a possible transportation tax package that may be the subject of a special legislative session this November.
The goal of this update is to give you information on transportation proposals during the legislative session, dates and times of the bipartisan transportation forums being hosted by members of the state senate and to ask you to participate in a very short transportation survey so you can share your thoughts.
The state transportation budget
This year, there was bipartisan support for the remaining 2011-13 transportation expenditures and 2013-15 state transportation budget within existing tax collections. Senate Bill 5024 appropriates $8.8 billion – $5.2 billion for capital projects and $3.6 billion for operating programs. More than $2.6 billion of the spending is dedicated to megaprojects, like the 520 Bridge.
The overall sources of funding for this budget include: fuel tax; bonds; federal funds; licenses/permits/fees; ferry fares; toll revenue; vehicle sales tax; rental car tax; local funds; and a $0.25 ferry capital surcharge.
The proposed transportation tax package: An additional $10 billion for state projects
What did not pass was the $10 billion transportation tax package debated in the final days of the 153-day session, which included two special sessions. I voted against this tax package because I believed that a last minute plan that was not debated, nor did lawmakers have the final project list the new taxes would fund, was not fair to taxpayers.
Over the interim, there will be a lot of discussion about a different transportation tax package and how it should be designed. I welcome this open discussion with you and other legislators. The governor has indicated that if a compromise package can be finalized, we would be called into special session Nov. 21 or 22 to vote on it.
There may be a new, compromise tax plan this fall, but what that may look like is anyone's guess. However, the transportation tax plan as proposed in the Legislature would have raised the additional funds as follows:
Statewide revenue source
|A gas tax increase of 10.5 cents per gallon phased in over 12 months||
|A passenger vehicle weight fee of $15, $25 or $35 (based on weight)||
|A weight fee increase for trucks over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight||
|A $5 fee for each vehicle registration not processed by a sub-agent and a $12 fee for each certificate of title transaction not processed by a sub-agent||
|Various service fees on Department of Licensing transactions and a fee increase of $6 per year for an Enhanced Driver's License or Enhanced Identicard||
|Elimination of handling loss deduction for licensed fuel suppliers, distributors and importers||
|Redeployment of the 2012 fee increases||
|Total tax package||
|Plus bond proceeds||
|Total tax package plus bonds||
We can all agree we must preserve and update our state infrastructure to meet the needs of commuters, freight and mass transit options. While a tax package to fund it is being considered, I should mention another significant effort that is underway.
In the House Transportation Committee, we heard that transportation projects in Washington state may cost as much as double what they do in other states. A legislative study is being conducted during the interim to learn why our costs are so high. If we can enact policies to bring those costs down, this may be a major part of the solution to our transportation funding dilemma.
In addition to the cost study, there are several reform measures being considered, such as reforming how costly mistakes are reported and streamlining transportation project permitting much like the governor wants to do for the Boeing Company's project, that would add accountability and transparency to transportation project spending and design mistakes.
As things progress, I will update you.
I hope you will join the discussion at the bipartisan Senate Transportation Leadership Forums taking place statewide. The details are as follows:
Sept. 17 – Seattle/Bellevue, 6-9 p.m.
Stevenson Elementary School, 14220 N.E. 8th St., Bellevue, WA 98007
Sept. 18 – Everett, 6-9 p.m.
Snohomish County, Robert Drewel Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., 1st floor, Everett, WA 98201
Sept. 23 – Wenatchee, 6-9 p.m.
Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N. Wenatchee Ave, Wenatchee, WA 98801
Sept. 24 – Yakima, 6-9 p.m.
Yakima Area Arboretum, Garden View Room, 1401 Arboretum Dr., Yakima, WA 98901
Sept. 26 – Tri-Cities 6-9 p.m.
Columbia Basin College, 2600 N. 20th Ave., Pasco, WA 99301
Oct. 2 – Spokane, 6-9 p.m.
Greater Spokane Inc., 801 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201
Oct. 7 – Vancouver, 6-9 p.m.
Vancouver Community Library, Columbia Room, 901 C St., Vancouver, WA 98660
Oct. 9 – Tacoma, 6-9 p.m.
Evergreen Tacoma Campus, Lyceum Hall, 1210 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98405
Oct. 14 – Seattle 6-9 p.m.
King County Courthouse, Room 1001, 516 3rd Avenue, 10th Floor , Seattle, WA 98104
Oct. 15 – Bellingham 6-9 p.m.
Port of Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Ave., Bellingham, WA 98225
I represent you and I want to know what you think. Participate in my transportation survey, which has space for your comments.
In this economy, I want to make sure I have your input to ensure whatever comes to the Legislature I'm prepared to vote on your behalf. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, comments and concerns.