Washington Senate Majority Unveils New Gas Tax Package, Votes Lacking

By Austin Jenkins

Negotiations on a gas tax package to fund roads and transit in Washington stalled out in December. Now members of the mostly Republican majority in the Washington Senate say they want to jumpstart those talks. They unveiled a revised funding proposal Thursday, but also acknowledged they don’t have the votes to pass it.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and Governor Jay Inslee say the time is right to pass a gas tax increase of ten to eleven-and-a-half cents per gallon. Republican Curtis King co-chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. His latest proposal makes some concessions to Democrats – like more funding for transit. But King also insists on a list of what he calls transportation reforms. One example: Currently the sales tax paid on any transportation projects goes into the state’s general fund. King says this money should be reinvested in transportation.

Curtis King: “We must have these reforms. It’s the only way that we can sell this package to the public.”

King needs 25 votes to pass his gas tax package out of the Senate. He says he has 13 votes at this point. Washington House Democrats say they already passed their version last year. House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn it doesn’t make sense to resume negotiations until the Senate has enough votes to pass its own package.

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