Posts tagged: transportation budget
OLYMPIA — The ability to set tolls on bridges, ferries and some special highway lanes would stay with the appointed Transportation Commission rather than the Legislature under an amendment rejected Monday afternoon.
The House Transportation Committee rejected an amendment to the 2013-15 budget that would require the Legislature to set all tolls, which was part of an initiative approved last year.
The Legislature regularly delegates that authority to the commission, but Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, said voters should be able to hold legislators accountable for those tolls at the next election, not an unelected board.
But Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said the bond market, which sets the rates for the bonds the state must sell to build big projects, generally charges more if a political body like the Legislature is in charge of setting the fares and tolls that will pay off the bonds. Approving the amendment would make financing more expensive, Clibborn said.
The amendment failed on a voice vote.
OLYMPIA – Jet planes may someday fly on fuel made Eastern Washington grain, cars will sport license plates celebrating 4-H and rhododendrons and drivers licenses will last longer but be more expensive under bills signed Friday.
A $100 fee for electric cars, an easier alternative to tire chains and a $938 million spending plan for state highways, bridges and ferries also were signed into law.
To read more about the transportation bills signed Friday, or to comment, go inside the blog.
Gov. Gregoire points to a chart Monday that shows revenue for the ferry system is falling dangerously low.
OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the state's 2011-13 transportation budget Monday and issued a warning to the Legislature to hurry up on other spending plans for the next biennium that seem to be hostage to a disagreements between the two chambers.
Agree on a general operating budget “no later than the end of the week”, she said, or risk running out of time for the special session. If that happens, Gregoire said she’d let legislators go home and stay there until they can strike a deal on the operating budget and a list of other proposals creating a roadblock to compromises.
“Things are not moving as fast as I think they should be,” a clearly unhappy Gregoire said after signing the 2011-13 transportation bill.
To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA — The House passed and sent to the governor a $9 billion transportation bill that includes money for roads, bridges and ferry projects for the next two years.
Included in 47-page summary of projects on the bill will cover are $72 million to continue work on the North-South freeway and $15.7 million for Interstate 90 corridor improvements in the Spokane Valley. It sets aside $12 million to replace the 67-year-old ferry at Keller, although much of that comes from sources other than the state.
The the list of projects, which total about $5.6 billion, also calls for the state to spend $32 million to finish construction of a 64-car ferry in the Puget Sound, and spend another $124 million to begin work on a new 144-car ferry. Ferry riders will face a 2.5 percent increase in rates in each of the next two years.
It sets aside money to shore up slopes, resurface state highways, renovate rest stops, improve rail lines and ferry terminals and rechannel runoff. Supporters called it a jobs bill that will create about 30,000 jobs.
The final House vote on the bill was was 87-9. Among Spokane-area legislators, Democrats Andy Billig and Timm Ormsby, and Republicans John Ahern, Susan Fagan, Joel Kretz, Kevin Parker, Joe Schmick, Shelly and Short voted yes. Republican Matt Shea voted no. Republican Larry Crouse was excused.
OLYMPIA — The Senate began discussion of the 2011-13 Transportation Bill shortly afternoon — and stopped fairly quickly.
A ruling is needed to determine whether Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, can get a vote on an amendment that would require applicants for a drivers license to present a valid Social Security number or some other form of identification that proves they are citizens.
Washington is the only state that does not require citizenship before issuing a drivers license, Benton said. That makes it a “magnet” for illegal immigrants seeking some form of state-issued ID.
Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, argued that the amendment is out of order because it's outside the subject and scope of the transportation bill, which she said is about spending money on transportation projects over the next two years. Benton's proposed change would essentially create a new state law on drivers licenses that would extend beyond the life of the spending plan.
Benton argued it fits in the transportation bill, which has money for a pilot program for a new federal licensing program that mentions Social Security numbers as part of its qualifications.
The budget debate was put on hold, pending a ruling on whether Benton's amendment is out of order. A few minutes later, the Senate adjourned until Wednesday morning because its Ways and Means Committee has a hearing at 2:30 p.m. that will require much of the members to attend.
OLYMPIA — Washington voters will not be asked to raise gas taxes or any other tax related to roads, at least not this fall. 2012, however, is another matter.
As they announced the House proposal for an $8.9 billion transportation budget, the chairwoman and ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee agreed Monday that there'd be no request for a tax increase to pay for more road projects this year.
“Sometime in the future” Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said.
The state will need more money eventually for some ongoing projects, including Spokane's North-South Freeway, Rep. Mike Armstrong of Wenatchee, the panel's ranking Republican said. But he's not willing to support an increase in the gas tax yet.
“New revenue is going to be needed. I'm not sure a gas tax is going to be part of it,” Armstrong said.
The proposed House Transportation budget sets aside some $72 million over the next two years for the freeway, also known as the North Spokane Corridor, about $27 million of it from a special account fed by the extra five-cent per gallon tax on gasoline voters approved in 2003.
But gasoline taxes are not the reliable source of money for road projects that they were in the past because of higher gas mileage in new cars and decreased driving by motorists, committee members said.
Clibborn said she wasn't looking at any new revenue sources beyond a gas tax but Armstrong said Republicans were “looking at a bunch of options”, which he declined to detail.
“There's really no silver bullet that would save us from decreasing gas tax revenues,” Clibborn said.
Rep. Marko Liais, D-Edmonds, the committee's vice chairman, argued that raising the gas tax on a per gallon basis really should be seen as an increase on motorists because they'd be paying about the same amount in taxes with their fuel efficient cars. “It's really keeping steady as gas use declines.”
OLYMPIA — The Senate passed a multi-million dollar transportation budget this afternoon on a vote of 41-3.
The proposal was described as a jobs bill, a way to improve government and a guide for the more contentious operating budget, which comes up next.
Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, said described it a boost to the struggling economy.
“Given the economy, the biggest issue we face in this chamber is jobs,” he said.
The only voiced opposition centered on a proposal to spend $590 million in federal money to build a high-speed rail line between Seattle and Portland. Republican Sen. Mike Carrell said his constituents in Lakewood will be cut off as a “sleepy little track” becomes an express route, with up to 50 trains a day.
OLYMPIA — The Senate came back from caucus and has taken up the Transportation Budget.
Amendments done. Debate and vote on bill starts now.