Clibborn praises governor's proposal for transportation funding

During her final 'State of the state' address to the Legislature on Jan. 10,  Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed a $3.6 billion, 10-year plan to fund maintenance and operations by raising transportation-related fees. She also wants to make it easier for local governments to add taxes for roads and transit. Much of what she indicates demands attention — and additional taxes —is the repair and maintenance of transportation infrastructure and retaining key public safety staff.

The list she presented to the Legislature in her State of the State address includes the following:

State Department of Transportation: $2.67 billion to maintain pavement, operate ferries, preserve bridges

Cities and counties: $310 million in grants for pavement and bridge-structure needs

Stormwater: $250 million to prevent pollutants from reaching Puget Sound

Washington State Patrol: $200 million to avoid 12 percent cut in troopers

Transit: $150 million in grants to reduce cuts in service

Amtrak: $100 million to help operate passenger rail

She also set out a list of new fees to reach those goals:

Motor fuel: A fee of $1.50 per barrel of oil refined in the state, to raise $2.75 billion

Car-tabs: A $15 increase, to raise $760 million

Heavy trucks: A 15 percent license-fee increase, to raise $177 million

Electric vehicle fee: $100 a year, to raise $10 million

Local roads and transit needs would have their own sources:

Car fees: Local agencies could enact either a 1 percent annual tax on vehicle value, or a flat $40 car-tab fee, without going to the ballot

In response, 41st District Representative, Judy Clibborn D-Mercer Island, Chair of the House Transportation Committee issued a statement supporting the Governor's approach.

"The governor’s emphasis on transportation and the proposal she outlined today sets us on a course that is responsible and necessary," Clibborn wrote in a press release. "Her proposals provide an important down payment on the long-term transportation investments Washington needs to fuel job growth and a strong 21st century economy."

I applaud the governor’s emphasis on providing urgent support to preserve ferry, transit, rail and state patrol services, she continued, and I believe all transportation leaders will agree with her call to prevent city and county roads –as well as state highways—from crumbling due to a lack of investment, she added.

"The proposals announced today will not by themselves meet all of our future transportation needs," she said. But they are a good beginning.

To make it all work, Clibborn emphasized that Legislators will have to work together.

"Washington has benefited greatly in recent years from close bipartisan cooperation on transportation issues," she said. "We will need to continue this cooperation as we look for ways to fund and build a transportation system that provides a solid foundation for future jobs and prosperity throughout Washington."

Gregoire also wants to create contingency fund of several hundred million dollars in case the economy underperforms and asked lawmakers to cut an additional $1.5 billion more. She also proposed a temporary half-cent sales-tax increase that would raise nearly $500 million a year and offset some cuts — particularly in education.Some of the cuts outlined by the governor included a shortened school year, elimination of social services for thousands of low-income residents and early release of some prisoners.


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