OLYMPIA – The Washington state House of Representatives passed a $5.1 billion transportation budget Wednesday, sending the compromise spending plan to the Senate, which could pass it before the first special session ends today.
The bill is known as the “current law” transportation budget, using existing taxes and fees, to distinguish it from proposals that would raise the gasoline tax to pay for new projects. It passed on a 74-20 bipartisan vote, but not without some criticism from Republicans.
Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, said he voted for an earlier version of that budget but was voting no on the latest version because it was a deal struck behind closed doors by the transportation committee leaders from the two chambers. The first budget went through the regular process of committee hearings, amendments and time for legislators to study the plan, he said.
“Wouldn’t it be great if a little democracy broke out here?” Manweller said.
The budget calls for spending about $100 million on Spokane County projects over the next 10 years, with about $46 million in the upcoming 2015-17 biennium.
Among the local projects getting money would be the North Spokane Corridor, sometimes called the north-south freeway, slated for about $36 million for the next phase of the project.
In addition, the Spokane Transit Authority would get nearly $2 million for continued design, engineering and planning on the Central City Line project, which would qualify the agency for a federal matching grant. Although that project was part of an unsuccessful ballot measure last month, STA is looking at options for reintroducing a revised measure. STA would also get $1.7 million for a West Plains Transit Center.
The Interstate 90 corridor between Spokane and the Idaho state line would get about $1.5 million and state Route 290 between Sullivan Road and the Idaho line would get about $1.8 million for repaving.
Among the Spokane-area delegation, voting yes were Democrats Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli and Republican Kevin Parker. Voting no were Republicans Mary Dye, Jeff Holy, Bob McCaslin, Joe Schmick, Matt Shea and Shelly Short.