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12-Cent Gas Tax Increase Deal in Washington State
A deal has been reached between Democratic House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn and Republican Sen. Curtis King, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee to increase the gas tax by 11.9 cents and redirect fees to the transportation fund should Gov. Jay Inslee proposed low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) be implemented, reports Rachel La Corte of the Associated Press for the online Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
According to the Washington State Wire, "(a) gas tax hike of 11.7 cents per gallon has been part of the Senate GOP majority draft law."
What appeared to have made the deal possible was agreement by Gov. Jay Inslee to change where the fees from his proposed Clean Fuel Standard, which he has threatened to implement by executive order, would be directed. Rather than using them for carbon-reducing transportation projects like transit and active transportation, they would go into the main transportation account. [An earlier Seattle Times opinion on the politics surrounding the LCFS is very informative.]
“The current bill has a poison pill that pits clean air against transit. I oppose that and have worked hard to find a better alternative," explained Inslee in a media statement. "But legislators tell me it is essential to passing the $15 billion multi-modal transportation package and authorizing an additional $15 billion for Sound Transit light rail expansion."
In some ways, the plan mirrors what happened last week in Oregon when Gov. Kate Brown agreed to end her state's new low carbon fuels standard in exchange for a much lower four cent gas tax increase. However, Oregon's Clean Fuels Program had already been implemented by legislation that Brown signed on March 12.
Look for new developments to be noted in "comments" below as they become available. With the June 27 announcement of a 2015–17 state operating budget agreement to keep the state operating, it shouldn't be too long.