Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been a long week of voting on the House floor. As I mentioned in my last e-mail, you can watch House debate live on TVW at www.tvw.org. We will be working late into the evenings and weekends.
This e-mail update is focused on transportation. You have probably read about the majority party’s tax package. I hope you have also read about the needed reforms I, and other representatives, believe should be enacted before we even begin discussing an increase in gas and other taxes.
The House majority party recently proposed a $10 billion transportation tax package, which includes the following:
- 10-cent gas tax increase phased in over five years that would increase the gas tax to 47.5 cents per gallon (doubled since 2003);
- An additional tax that would likely add 2-3 cents per gallon;
- Reinstating the motor vehicle excise tax that voters abolished by an overwhelming majority;
- A county auditor/state fee increase of $5 and $12 for title transfer;
- A new tax on bikes of $25 for bikes valued at $500 or more; and
- A 15 percent weight fee increase on truckers that will increase the cost of goods.
I cannot support their proposal. Before we ask more from taxpayers, who are struggling just to make ends meet as it is, surely we need to first take action to stop the waste at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Just this week we learned of design errors by WSDOT on the pontoons for the 520-bridge in Seattle that will cost taxpayers, brace yourself, $100 million. That’s an inexcusable amount of waste.
In our own area, WSDOT poorly designed a Highway 16 off-ramp over Nalley Valley that resulted in a hit to the taxpayers of $1 million. Here are my proposals to try to address this critical problem:
- House Bill 1986 – This bill requires WSDOT to report engineering errors and explain what went wrong, how they plan to correct the error so it doesn’t happen again, and the disciplinary action taken against those responsible for wasting the taxpayers’ money.
- House Bill 1987- This bill would end WSDOT’s role of designing most roads and bridges and contract out the function to ensure that if errors occur, we can hold the outside contractor responsible for unnecessary costs.
I sponsored House Bill 1986 because we need more accountability to help WSDOT stop wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned money. And, I sponsored House Bill 1987 because the best fix would be to require WSDOT to stop doing design work on most projects altogether and shift the risk of design errors to outside contractors so we can recover costs from the contractor instead of the taxpayer. You can watch my video update on these transportation reforms here.
The next step is for the transportation budget and the majority party’s tax package to come to the House floor for debate and a vote. However, I hope that we instead bring my reform proposals, and other smart reforms like them, to the floor and pass them before new and higher taxes are considered.
I believe there is strong bipartisan support for our reform measures. I hope we can advance them so we can fund our critical transportation infrastructure in a way that moves people to work and goods to market efficiently.
Your input is needed…
Now is the time I need to hear from you about the proposed gas, excise and other tax increases to pay for transportation projects and the reforms to make our transportation dollars go much further. I encourage you to take my survey by clicking on the link above, but you can also access it here. Please call or e-mail me with your thoughts. My contact information is below.