AGC’s Board of Trustees voted to oppose Initiative 1125 a proposal to limit the use of toll and gas tax revenues in Washington State. AGC encourages a “no” vote because I-1125 will further constrict already tight transportation financing.
I-1125 is opposed by a broad coalition of business labor and environmental groups (see the full list of these groups and watch “no on I-1125” ads at the Keep Washington Rolling website). Virtually every editorial has been opposed to the initiative (see examples at Yakima Herald Tacoma News Tribune and Seattle Times).
I-1125 would severely limit the use of toll revenues. It will require that toll revenues only be used on the project for which they are collected and that they be collected only until the construction costs of the facility have been paid off. This would prohibit tolling to pay for ongoing maintenance of the facility placing a greater burden on gas tax revenues for these uses.
The measure also punches a big hole in financing for large projects as it would require that any tolls collected be a flat-rate precluding variable tolling during peak travel times. This will severely limit financing options for projects such as replacement of the SR 520 floating bridge the deep-bore Alaskan Way tunnel and the Columbia River Crossing Bridge.
The initiative also creates some difficult “Catch-22” situations such as banning use of either Lake Washington floating bridge usage for light rail in the future despite the long-standing voter-approved policy agreement that the I-90 bridge would carry light rail at some point.
The proposal would also require that all tolls be established by the State Legislature rather than the current law which delegates that responsibility to the Transportation Commission. This requirement would be ponderous at best and subject the tolling process to unworkable political influences so as to make it difficult to achieve agreement on anything. The State Treasurer estimates that this requirement would add 18 percent to the cost of bonds to finance projects assuming anyone would agree to buy them with the Legislature setting tolls.
To see a Washington Research Council analysis of the initiative click here.
For more information contact AGC Government Affairs Director Rick Slunaker 360-352-5000.