House Democrats unveiled a $10 billion transportation package on Wednesday that would be fueled by an increase in the gasoline tax and an increase on car tab fees.
The proposal would increase the state gas tax by 10 cents (2 cents a year over five years) and make car tab rates equal to 0.7 percent of the vehicle’s value. The proposal would also add a $25 fee on sales of bicycles over $500.
“Gas tax is about the only revenue stream you have right now,” Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) said during a press conference Wednesday. “If we don’t have an investment for the jobs and economic vitality I think at some point there is a cost to not doing the gas tax.”
Washington’s gas tax currently ranks the ninth-highest in the nation. The proposal would eventually raise it to 47.5 cents per gallon.
The package identifies new or continued projects and targeted investments into the state’s transportation system, including improvements to State Route 167, funding for the Interstate 5 Columbia River crossing and the state ferry system.
House Republicans, who have been wary of any new tax proposals, were quick to criticize the new plan.
“House Republicans understand there are maintenance demands and new projects needed in the future,” Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) said in a news release. “But any debate on transportation must begin with reforms, not tax increases on struggling workers and families, and not new project lists to entice votes in the Legislature.”
Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement saying transportation is “vital to the environmental and economic health” of the state.
“We can’t afford to not take action and this is a job I expect the Legislature to accomplish. I’ll be working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to craft a package that they can send to my desk for approval,” Inslee said.