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Published on Friday, December 14, 2012

Cities working on transportation funding options

Governor Gregoire is indicating that she may propose a statewide transportation funding proposal when she releases her proposed budget on December 18. (Even though she is the outgoing Governor, she is required by our state constitution to present a budget.) It’s not clear what the proposal may contain, and it’s also not yet clear whether Governor-elect Inslee will propose his own transportation funding package. He did specifically say at AWCs Candidate Forum in September that there is a need for new transportation funding.

As the Governors consider how they will proceed, cities are moving ahead and making it clear that local transportation funding options are needed. On December 7, the AWC Board approved our legislative agenda for 2013 that includes the following: “Collaborate with the state to increase multi-modal transportation funding and expand sustainable revenue options.” More specifically; “The range of sources that we are discussing includes:

  • An increase in the gas tax, 65 percent of which would go to the state with cities and counties receiving 18 and 12 percent respectively;
  • An increase in Transportation Benefit District councilmanic authority for vehicle fees from $20 to $40;
  • Some level of county Motor Vehicle Excise Tax authority, shared with cities, that could be passed either councilmanically or by public vote.”

In addition, a group of mayors originally convened by Mayor McGinn of Seattle and Mayor Priest from Federal Way has met several times since last January to explore and advocate for local transportation funding options. Recently, they have invited a larger group of mayors from around the state to participate in these ongoing discussions. AWC has been participating in these discussions as well to provide support as requested and to help promote and facilitate consistency between the emerging positions from the mayor’s group and AWC positions. As of now, the approaches are consistent.

With the backdrop of another difficult budget year, enhanced by the need to increase funding for K-12 education, it’s very difficult to predict whether the Legislature will ultimately choose to move forward with a statewide transportation funding package. In any case, cities will continue to pursue options that will help us address our own transportation funding needs. For more information, please contact either Dave Williams or Dave Catterson.

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