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Inslee: Gas tax increase needed to repair roads, bridges

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday repeated his call for a hike in the state’s gas tax, up to 10 cents a gallon, to fund road and bridge projects across Washington.

jay inslee 02-13It’s the cornerstone of an $8.5 billion plan he’s urging lawmakers to approve, even as they stand at an impasse over the state’s operating budget.

“We understand that there is a tooth fairy, but there is no transportation fairy,” Inslee said. “We need to raise revenues to put into transportation.”

The governor addressed a large morning rally on the steps of the Capitol.

“One out of five bridges, today, are functionally obsolete in the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “We cannot allow the erosion of this system to begin, and that’s going to happen if we don’t act today.”

The governor has said that a major priority during the Legislature’s special session includes the transportation package, in addition to an operating budget.

The tentative project list for the gas tax package includes improvements to Interstate 405, State Routes 167 and 509, the North-South Freeway (U.S. 395) in Spokane, and other corridors.

The governor argued the multibillion-dollar plan will help with roads and with the state’s high unemployment in the construction sector.

“If you want to put people to work, put people to work,” he said referring to state lawmakers.  “That’s what we want to do this year.”

But the gas tax is going to be a hard sell with the conservative-led state Senate. “The reality is that there is just no appetite for paying more for gas tax,” said Majority Whip Ann Rivers, R-Clark County.

Rivers said cynicism with the state’s Department of Transportation is just too high, especially with the recent pontoon cracks on State Route 520 that will cost taxpayers $100 million to fix.

“We need to see that the money is being spent a lot more wisely before we start throwing good money after bad,” said Rivers.

One question before lawmakers, even if there are the votes to pass some kind of gas tax increase, is whether they send it to voters to make the final decision this fall.

11 comments

  • Redeemed

    I've never met a democrat who would look too find ways of being more efficient with less, such as cut waste and fraud and give a proper accountability for money spent before they would raise taxes.

    That is there only solution for they are not familiar with the word discipline. Economics requires fiscal discipline. They are like a trophy wife with the husband's credit card wondering why they are in poor house at the end of it all…

    Whereas proper planning putting away revenue during fat years to make it through year leans can only be accomplished with strong leadership and discipline.

    • Jimmy

      I've never seen a Republican take responsibility for ruining the economy during the Bush and Cheney administration. Lowering taxes, loosening regulations and blowing the national treasure on the Iraq war didn't do this country any good. Bush can't show his face – even at the last two Republican conventions.

  • jared

    i'm paying 4.11$ a gallon in my small town of duvall so what am i going to do when this gas tax hits full force while in the next couple months im guessing gas prices are going to nothing but go up, screw this state.

  • Jimmy

    I dont understand why Gov. Inslee thinks unemployment is high in the construction sector? Seattle is having a construction boom like never before. Lots of large new buildings going up all over town.

  • Foxx

    WOW more taxes. why not take more money from the little guy while they are making buckets of money everyday. the tax wont go to roads it will go to pay raises for him so he can go on vacation a few more times a year. a## holes

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