In another major step for a comprehensive transportation funding package the House Transportation Committee passed out funding bills that money-wise are similar to the package passed by the full state Senate. Thanks to the many AGC members who contacted committee members in the days before the vote!
Now House and Senate transportation leaders are rolling-up their sleeves and attempting to negotiate a final package that can pass both chambers and be signed by the Governor.
Despite the similarities between the House and Senate versions (both spend about $15 billion over 16 years and are financed with a similar phased-in 11.7-cent boost in the gas tax and higher fees on truck weights and license plates) major disagreements remain.
The Democratic-controlled House has yet to pass any of the eight reform measures including streamlined permitting and apprenticeship reform which the Republican-controlled Senate passed to complement the funding measures. Perhaps the most contentious of the reform measures involves the sales tax. The House plan would continue to use some sales-tax money collected from construction projects for education funding; the Senate proposal eliminates the sales tax on transportation projects. In addition the House proposal would authorize the full $15 billion sought for Sound Transit’s rail-extension ballot measure; the Senate version would allow $11 billion. That expansion would be funded by voter-approved local property- and sales-tax increases and car-tab hikes. And the Democrats forego language used in the Senate version to keep Gov. Jay Inslee from implementing low-carbon fuel standards.
With the legislative session scheduled to end on April 26 and the House leadership’s vow to hold off on voting on a transportation package until operating budget legislation is complete a special session looks increasingly likely.
For more information contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood 360.352.5000.