Business, labor, transit coalition urging passage of transportation package
Transportation investment must be a priority for lawmakers.That’s the consensus of a coalition of business, labor and transit groups as expressed in recent Seattle Times op-ed.
Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable, Larry Brown, president of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and Alex Hudson, executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition penned the op-ed and point to the damage the pandemic has already done to the economy and transportation revenues. The op-ed says, in part:
“…it is essential that lawmakers prioritize investments that will get people back to work and support economic growth into the future.
“Washington’s transportation system is vital to that recovery.
“Our roads, bridges, ferries, ports and transit systems serve as the lifeblood of commerce and daily life. But, like so many businesses, families and communities across Washington, our transportation system has been pummeled by the pandemic.
“Transportation revenues — gas-tax collections, tolls, fares and other fees — have taken a nosedive. Vital projects have been stopped or postponed. Transit service has been reduced or cut. Communities are struggling with roads and bridges in serious decline amid budget shortfalls.”
AGC is also urging the Legislature to pass a transportation package. AGC is a member of the Keep Washington Rolling Coalition, which recently sent a letter to all legislators. In part, the letter acknowledges these priorities:
- Prioritization of maintenance and preservation projects. We have a significant backlog of deferred maintenance projects that threaten the reliability and safety of our transportation system. Increasing funding for maintenance and preservation projects not only improves the system but also benefits local communities throughout the state. Through these investments, as well as new critical projects, we have the opportunity to stimulate the economy and support local jobs.
- Culverts. The need to fund removal of fish passage barriers is not an option, it is a legal obligation of approximately $3.4 billion between 2021 and 2030.
- Invest in a strong interconnected multimodal transportation system. Ensuring the continuity and completion of our multimodal systems around the state is paramount for our essential workers, most vulnerable populations, and the post-pandemic permanent workforce. State investments in transit, bike and pedestrian service and capital needs will be necessary to facilitate a strong economic recovery by creating jobs and assisting workers to return to their work sites.
- Finish what we’ve started. In 2015, the Legislature adopted Connecting Washington – a $16 billion, 16-year transportation investment plan, multimodal investments and projects in key economic corridors. Many of those projects are already underway or set to begin soon. We should prioritize keeping those projects on track and protecting the jobs they support.
- Include new revenue streams. We understand that new revenue streams will likely be necessary in any new transportation package. We look forward to working through these options with you.
Already two proposals are under discussion: a 16-year, $27-billion package from House Democrats and a 16-year, $18-billion to $19-billion package from the Senate Transportation chair, Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens. In Washington, transportation investments have always been the product of bipartisan legislative agreement, with broad support from business, labor and environmental groups. That foundation again appears in 2021.
For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.