Spin Control

Transpo package is dead

OLYMPIA-- Sen. Mark Schoesler, center, discusses what's ahead for the final day of the Legislature at a press conference with Rep. Dan Kristiansen and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette. (Jim Camden)
OLYMPIA-- Sen. Mark Schoesler, center, discusses what's ahead for the final day of the Legislature at a press conference with Rep. Dan Kristiansen and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette. (Jim Camden)

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler talks about what will and won't happen during the remainder of the session at a press conference with House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen and Senate Republican Caucus Chairwoman Linda Evans Parlette.

OLYMPIA -- Good news for Spokane motorists: You won't be paying an extra 11.5 cents in taxes for gasoline over the next three years. Bad news: The Legislature doesn't have a plan to come up with the money to finish the North Spokane Corridor or several other "mega projects" many people think it needs.

A possible $8 billion transportation package that would raise fuel and motor vehicle taxes and generate money for major road projects, maintenance and mass transit will not pass the Legislature this session, Republican leaders of both chambers said today.

The lasts chance for a package crashed with recriminations all around.

They blame with Senate Democrats for not being willing to accept reforms to the way the state plans, funds and builds major transportation projects Senate Democrats, in turn, said the predominantly Republican coalition that controls the Senate never even scheduled a committee hearing on their package so it could be brought to the chamber for a vote.

House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen said Inslee should have led a "cohesive effort" to bring the leaders of both chambers together and negotiate a deal. A spokesman for Inslee said the governor had a meeting with Senate Transportation Co-Chairman Curtis King, R-Yakima, on Monday and asked if a new proposal was worth bringing all leaders together for negotiations and was told "No."

 Inslee, who has made a transportation package one of his top priorities since taking office last year, said he was disappointed there would be no package and found it difficult to understand why the Legislature couldn't reach an agreement on something the state clearly needs.

 The Housed passed its version of a package last year, and Democrats who control that chamber said they were ready to negotiate as soon as the Senate passed one of its own. Senate Republicans introduced a different proposal last month that never had the necessary votes to pass and thus never came to a vote.

That Senate version had $750 million to finish the corridor, sometimes called the North-South Freeway.  The House version had about $480 million, which would complete the next phase.

The failure to reach agreement on the package is not a surprise. On a lobbying trip to Olympia in January, Spokane's business, political and civic leaders were told not to get to expect a package would come out of  the short legislative session.




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