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Washington State Considering New Gas Tax, Transit and Bike Fees

The state legislature is weighing three proposals that seek to fund improvements to aging infrastructure and upgrade the state's transportation network.
February 26, 2021, 8am PST | Diana Ionescu | @aworkoffiction
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Christine Majul

A Washington state proposal would add a 3-cent-per-gallon gas tax, among other new taxes, to fund road improvements and make up for revenue lost during the pandemic, reports Michelle Baruchman for the Seattle Times. The measure, proposed by state Senator Curtis King, would also raise the sales tax on bicycles and bike parts and increase fares on public transit, ferries, and rideshare services. King, the ranking Republican on the state Senate Transportation Committee, said of his proposal, "it’s time we made everybody contribute and pay for what they use."

King's plan would raise $10 billion in eight years to be used primarily to fund highway maintenance and preservation, replace aging bridges on Interstate 5 and the West Seattle Bridge, and fund other highway megaprojects. It also supports funding infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars, "devoting $300 million in his plan to helping with the production of hydrogen, installing service stations and providing incentives for the purchase of hydrogen-fueled vehicles."

Other transportation and infrastructure proposals in the state senate focus on non-highway projects, carbon fees, and "ambitious plans to tackle the transportation sector’s contributions to climate change." A proposal from Senator Jake Fey "calls for a 16-year, $27 billion program that would include a $15 per ton fee on carbon emissions and an 18-cent hike in gas taxes, phased over two years." Another "proposes a 12-year, $14.3 billion plan that would levy a carbon fee as well as a tax on luxury aircraft and yachts." All three proposals are being debated in the current legislative session.

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Published on Saturday, February 20, 2021 in Seattle Times
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