Spin Control

House transportation budget: No new taxes, no new projects

OLYMPIA -- The House Transportation Committee released an $8.7 billion spending plan for the next two years, and like the Senate plan released Wednesday it projects no tax increases.

In February, Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn and a group of other Democrats did produce a separate $10 billion proposal, dubbed Connecting Washington, that called for a series of increases in taxes and fees, including a boost in the gasoline tax of 2 cents per year for five years.

The plan released Wednesday has no new taxes, and no new big projects, but continues work on current projects and ferries under construction. Because gasoline tax revenues are declining with more efficient cars and drivers cutting their trips, it's about $1.4 billion less than the current two-year budget. It cuts staff at the departments of Transportation and Licensing and eliminates some ferry runs that get less use.

Rep. Ed Orcutt of Kalama, the leading Republican on the committee said it streamlines projects and holding the Transportation Department accountable. Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, called it a Band-Aid, "not a long-term solution.

Both spending plans get road-tested today. The budget proposal has a hearing in the House Transportation Committee today at 3:30 p.m. The Senate Transportation budget has a hearing in the Senate committee at 1:30 p.m.




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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