Governor Gregoires $3.6 billion transportation proposal got its first hearings in the Senate and House transportation committees last week and it is already likely that the plan will be altered significantly.
As reported in last weeks AGC Works AGC believes the proposal as a good start but well short of the funding needed to address the states transportation infrastructure needs. After all just two weeks ago the Governors own Connecting Washington Task Force released its recommendation of $21 billion in funding over the next ten years.
Another highly controversial element of the Governors plan is its reliance on a $1.50 fee per barrel of oil produced in Washington State. It appears the barrel fee will be removed from the legislation but it remains to be seen what funding mechanism would replace it.
“We understand that some elements of this package are controversial” said AGC lobbyist Duke Schaub in his hearing testimony. “There is no question about that. We also understand that there are some concerns from members [of the Legislature] about the fees that are involved in the proposal. But at least a package is on the table to initiate discussion and hopefully we can move forward from there.”
AGC will continue to push for enactment of a transportation package. AGC is concerned that the Governor and Legislature are not being bold enough in addressing the Mt. Rainier-shaped graph of transportation spending as presented in this graph created by WSDOT which shows transportation spending plummeting starting in 2013. The steep descent is due primarily to the fact that projects funded by the 2003 and 2005 gas tax increases are nearing completion. Most of the states gas tax collections are committed to those projects city and county roads and debt service. Without new revenue only 8 cents of the 37.5 cents per gallon gas tax will be available for both maintenance and new projects. Educating policymakers about this dramatic decrease in available funding should be a high priority for all AGC members.