Senate Transportation leaders unveil $15B funding and reform package

Construction of the SR 167/SR 509 Gateway I-5 JBLM corridor improvements and I-82 Yakima to Union Gap improvements are among the 104 projects that would be constructed via a $15 billion transportation package introduced last week in the State Senate. Funded primarily through a phased-in 11.7 cent gas tax increase the bill’s introduction is the vital first step of what is expected to be a weeks-long legislative process. 

For years a comprehensive transportation funding package has been a top priority of AGC which praised the bi-partisan work of the bill’s sponsors: Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Curtis King (R-14) Ranking Minority Member Steve Hobbs (D-44) and Committee members Sen. Joe Fain (R-47) and Sen. Marko Liias (D-21). 

For the list of projects that would be funded by this package click here. For a breakdown of how funds would be spent on items such as maintenance click here.

“This is a very good plan for the state of Washington” said Sen. King. “Every resident of the state will benefit greatly. Projects were selected on their economic benefit and the return on the taxpayer’s investment will be huge. The reforms alone will not only provide more accountability but additional cost-savings as well. For people in my district trying to move goods to market having improved interchanges and highways will improve their bottom line and their quality of life.”

In addition to the funding the package includes several reforms including:

• requiring sales and use taxes collected on transportation projects to be returned to transportation accounts.
• excluding the payment of prevailing wages on off-site work involving the manufacture or fabrication of nonstandard items used or incorporated into the project.
• reducing WSDOT apprenticeship requirements from 15% to 13%.
• fast-track permitting changes.
• encouraging expanded use of Design/Build for projects over $10 million and the creation of an expert review panel to include AGC ACEC and WSDOT representatives to make recommendations for improvements to Design/Build project delivery.

Click here for a full list of proposed reforms.

AGC supports the reforms but of the various proposals the prevailing wage and sales tax changes are considered the most controversial and will likely be the targets of amendments during the legislative process.

The package provides authority to Sound Transit to put its own funding package before the voters regarding “ST3. The bill does not contain a clause requiring a ballot referendum in order to be enacted. It is possible however that a ballot initiative would be filed to repeal the package if passed by the Legislature. Nevertheless introduction of the proposal provides significant new momentum to the effort to pass a package that will spur economic growth reduce congestion and provide thousands of construction industry jobs.

For more information contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood 360.352.5000.