House Democrats have released a new plan for transportation revenue and investment, making a handful of changes to the proposal they passed two years ago and setting up a new round of negotiations with the Senate.
“A robust, modern transportation system is critical to our economy and our quality of life here in Washington,” said Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island). “This package will create jobs, combat traffic congestion, and connect the communities of our state together.”
“This package builds a world-class, multimodal transportation system without mortgaging our schools, our environment, or our future. Its true reflection of Washington values,” said Representative Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle).
The proposal contained two new elements that were not included in the legislation passed previously: authorizing new funding authority for Sound Transit, and a reserve account – known as the transportation future fund – to pay for unanticipated future needs.
“Voters should be able to decide for themselves if they want to invest in a comprehensive transit system,” said Representative Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). “The full $15 billion authority for Sound Transit will make that vision possible by expanding reliable, congestion-free light rail throughout the region.”
“This is a 16 year package; we can’t predict every project or repair that might be necessary over that time. By using savings from implementing new project design standards, the transportation future fund gives us the flexibility to address new needs and opportunities as they arise,” said Representative Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane).
House leaders also noted there are no discrepancies between their transportation revenue proposal and their operating budget – unlike the Senate.
“The Senate wants to divert sales tax revenue to pay for transportation, but they also count on it to pay for school. Double counting money may work for the Senate, but it doesn’t pencil out for our kids,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D-Covington). “Not only does this package have the right values, it has the right math.”