Senate transportation leaders release 2015 bipartisan transportation package

Transportation Committee Chair Senator Curtis King, along with Senators Steve Hobbs, Joe Fain, & Marko Liias unveil a transportation revenue package proposal at the state capitol, Feb. 12, 2015.

Over two years of speculation ended today when Senate transportation leadership presented their bipartisan plan for a $15 billion statewide transportation revenue package.

Transportation chair, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, Sens. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, Joe Fain, R-Auburn and Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood laid out the details of the package that would include $8 billion in new construction spending, paid for with an 11.7-cent gas tax implemented in stages over 3 years, fee increases, sales tax and a percentage of the Environment Legacy Stewardship Account.

“This is a very good plan for the state of Washington,” said King. “Every resident of the state will benefit greatly. Projects were selected on their economic benefit and the return on the taxpayer’s investment will be huge. The reforms alone will not only provide more accountability, but additional cost-savings as well. For people in my district trying to move goods to market, having improved interchanges and highways will improve their bottom line and their quality of life.”

There are 6 “mega” projects and 58 regional projects throughout the state on the proposed project list. Funding was provided to see the projects through completion.

“I’m optimistic this plan will ultimately be embraced by all sides. Like any major bipartisan agreement, there are going to be aspects that are unpopular. That’s the nature of compromise. Despite some differences, however, there is no disagreement that our state is long overdue for meaningful transportation investments and improvements and this plan addresses that need in a very meaningful way,” said Hobbs, ranking member on the Senate Transportation Committee.

The package consists of 11 bills: eight reform bills, a bond bill, a revenue bill and a spending bill. It is expected that the bills will receive public hearings Tuesday in the Senate Transportation Committee, starting with the reform bills.

“Responsible transportation investments will create jobs, prepare our state for future growth and allow people to spend less time in traffic and more time with their family,” said Fain, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.

“Expanding light rail will reshape our region for generations to come, and it will help us address the clear and present danger of climate change,” said Liias, assistant ranking member on the Senate Transportation Committee. “When we expand transportation choices, allowing people to drive, walk, bike and ride the bus — everybody wins. People have more and better options for getting to work and around their communities, we reduce traffic and congestion on our roads, we reduce air pollution and we create safer and more vibrant communities.”