Where Are We on Transportation?

The legislature adjourned the 105-day regular session without passing an operating budget and a special session could begin as soon as May 13. An agreement was reached between the House and Senate on a base transportation budget however and it passed both chambers. Here is the bill that was approved ESSB 5024 along with agency details. The base transportation budget does not expand revenue but rather funds existing programs including the WSP DOL WSF and the WSDOT for the next two years. Other points of interest include:

  • Columbia River Crossing:  It’s also worth highlighting the provisions for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project contained within the base transportation budget. These provisions were reached through a compromise in order to pass the base budget. The State’s $450 million CRC contribution still hangs unresolved and may be dealt with during the special session. The base transportation budget…
     *Appropriates about $82 million to the CRC project contingent on the Coast Guard’s approval of permits. If the Coast Guard does not issue the permits the money can only be used to fund a new supplemental EIS to redesign the CRC project.

     *Directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review committee (JLARC) to conduct a forensic audit of the Interstate 5/Columbia River Crossing project to investigate possible misuse of public funds.

     *Directs the Joint Transportation Committee to continue the CRC oversight committee.

  • Commute Trip Reduction Tax Credit Extended: Many Washington businesses participate in Washington’s Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program and they take advantage of a CTR tax credit. The tax credit was set to expire on July 1 but lawmakers extended the rebate in the base transportation budget for another year.
  • SR-167 HOT Lane Pilot Program Extende: The HOT lane pilot program on SR-167 was set to expire on June 30 2013. The Legislature extended the HOT Lane program on SR-167 for an additional two years in the base transportation budget and it now expires on June 30 2015. FYI: WSDOT officials recently released the Fourth Annual Performance Summary on the HOT lane program 2008-2012.
  • Transportation Revenue Package: The transportation revenue package (.10 cent gas tax increase) did not pass during the regular session and it remains a top agenda item during the special session. Here is a brief outline of the proposal. The Majority Coalition in the Senate has voiced three conditions they need before they will support a package: reforms remove CRC and add a referendum clause. AGC staff continues to work with lawmakers and a coalition of business labor and environmental groups making sure any revenue plan is fair and meets the needs of our members. If you have any questions or want to provide input please don’t hesitate to contact me.
  • Sine Die Without Confirmation of WSDOT Secretary: Gov. Inslee appointed Lynn Peterson as the new WSDOT Secretary in February and the Senate is responsible for confirming the appointment. However the legislature adjourned yesterday without a confirmation and Senators have not even held a hearing on it in the Senate Transportation Committee. In Washington State the WSDOT Secretary can serve with or without a Senate confirmation so it is unclear whether lawmakers will take up the issue during special session or not.

For more information contact AGCs Legislative Office 360-352-5000.