While much attention is being paid to the development of the state’s two-year operating budget, there are other troubling policies working their way through the Legislature in the final days of the 2019 legislative session. As concerning as billions more in general tax increases are, there is a looming, self-imposed crisis about to take place regarding transportation.
Since joining the Senate, I’ve been sounding the alarms on our state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure and the tax-and-spend approach to funding this immense need. Now, there is legislation that could come up that would ensure our region is stuck in traffic for decades. To complete a much-needed project along SR-167 to the Port of Tacoma, some in Olympia are considering making tolls along the corridor permanent AND bonding the toll revenue, which means we can’t do anything to relieve congestion for decades until the debt is paid off. That is a bad idea.
The proposal to bond toll revenue puts us down a path that would ensure congestion for decades because we could not do anything that would alter the funding source, i.e. tolls. In effect, you will be paying to have congestion.
I’ve made the rounds on various news outlets to let the public know about this proposal. You can listen to the segments below.
There is more than enough money coming to the state to fund my proposal that uses the existing tax on the sale of motor vehicles, providing an inflation-linked funding source for infrastructure. The problem with funding is not usage, as some would have you believe.
The state transportation secretary has said as much. The problem is inflation – the costs of construction are increasing, as well as the cost of right-of-way purchases. We currently fund our transportation needs with declining gas-tax revenues, tolls or other usage-type taxes that will never actually meet the need. We develop project lists that are great for communities around the state, but then have to raise taxes to pay for them. We have to do something different.
By using the existing sales tax, we would have more money available to pay for projects, create thousands of family-wage jobs, and unlock billions in economic development with the money you already send to Olympia.