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Published on Friday, February 22, 2013

Connecting Washington – Highlights of the House Democratic transportation revenue package

The House Democrats unveiled their transportation revenue package, called “Connecting Washington,” in a press conference on February 21. Chair of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) was joined by Transportation Committee members Reps. Liias, Fey, Farrell, Ricelli, Moeller, and Moscoso, as well as business, labor, and environmental leaders, to roll out the package.

The package focuses spending on new projects, maintenance and upkeep, infrastructure protection, local government assistance, stormwater cleanup, and complete streets. Funding sources in the package include:

  • Increase in the gas tax by 2 cents per year for five years
  • Establishment of a 0.7 percent statewide motor vehicle excise tax (MVET)
  • Increase in the hazardous substances tax (HST)
  • Issuance of bonds
  • Increase in auditor licensing fees
  • Fifteen percent increase in the commercial gross weight fee
  • Establishment of a bicycle sales fee

More details are available in this summary and in the bill itself, HB 1954.

The revenues are directed at a variety of projects and programs. Those of particular interest to cities include:

  • A direct distribution of $337 million over 10 years to cities for maintenance, operations, and preservation of city streets.
  • $145.2 million over 10 years in increased funding for the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB).
  • $897 million over 10 years for state and local stormwater and fish passage issues, provided as grants through the Department of Ecology and TIB.
  • $3 billion over 10 years for five new “Statewide Impact Projects” and six Regional Priority Projects. (Project list available here.)
  • $61 million over 10 years for the Complete Streets Grant Program, grants to cities for street retrofit projects that provide safety and usability improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • $34 million over 10 years for the Safe Routes to Schools Program.

The proposal also includes an increase in Transportation Benefit District councilmanic authority for vehicle fees from $20 to $40, and other specific local options for King and Snohomish counties.

Initially, we heard that the proposal would have a public hearing in the House Transportation Committee on Monday, February 25, but at this time the hearing has not been formally scheduled. At the hearing, AWC will express our appreciation for a proposal that includes substantial new revenues for cities and towns and an expansion of local options. As we continue to work through the details of this complicated proposal, we may identify concerns about specific elements that we will express at the hearing.

This is just the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long haul involving many changes to the bill. AWC will stay actively involved with legislators and other stakeholders as the bill makes its way through the process, and we’ll continue to keep you informed through updates in the Bulletin.

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