Spin Control

Senate Transportation Budget: No new taxes or big projects

OLYMPIA -- The Senate Transportation Committee released an $8.7 billion spending proposal for the state's highways, bridges, ferries and state patrol Wednesday, but said its bipartisan leaders said they have no plans right now for any possible tax increases for new projects.

While acknowledging there is a push from business, labor and many other groups for some kind of tax package for major highway and bridge projects, thebipartisan committee co-chairs said they would wait to consider what, if anything, the Democratically controlled House passes before figuring it into their proposal.

"I say take it one day at a time. Let's see what comes over from the House," Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, said.

Although there may be strong support among the various groups lobbying the Legislature, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, any tax increase would likely go to voters. "I'm not sure they're willing to pay."

Instead, they released plans tospend $4.1 billion on highway improvements and preservation projects already on the books, including $68 million for the North Spokane Corridor through a combination of state and federal fund sources, and $200 million for the "deep bore" tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

It also calls for increased wages for the Washington State Patrol and studies for better oversight of transportation projects and expanding the "Good to Go" pass program, which has had significant problems over the last year in its start-up for a toll bridge in Seattle, to cover all tolls as well as ferry fares.




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