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Spin Control

Supporters of roads package rally

Ava Conner, 6, accompanied her mother Jennifer to the Capitol for today's rally for a transportation package.

OLYMPIA — Shouts of “Pass it Now” filled the Capitol steps this morning as supporters of a new package of taxes and road projects tried to goad the Legislature into action.

In front of the podium where a couple hundred sign-carrying protesters in hard hats and safety vests. Behind the podium were folks in suits and ties. It was a visual reminder that the package has the support of labor unions and the state's business community, backed up by speakers like Gov. Jay Inslee, who has made passing a transportation package one of his top priorities for the special session.

“We've got to finish what we have started,” Inslee told the crowd. “It is crunch time…There is a tooth fairy but there is no transportation fairy.” 

Where it lacks support, however, is in parts of the GOP caucuses in both chambers of the Legislature, where opponents of the Columbia River Crossing bridge between Portland and Vancouver are against including money for that project. Some members also want any taxes the package will include to be sent to a statewide vote in November by including a referendum clause in the legislation.

House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said a referendum clause is still part of negotiations, even though she believes the Legislature should make the decision to avoid a loss in November that would set projects back.

“We know it's coming up in the Senate,” she said of demands for a referendum clause.

Also under negotiations is the size of the package, between $8 billion and $9.5 billion over 12 years, depending on the size and timing of tax increases, and the kinds of options local governments might get to handle their transportation needs.

Monday was Day 8 of the special session, which is scheduled to end June 12. 

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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