Inslee will call special session if lawmakers can agree on transportation package

By | September 3, 2013 | Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee said he is prepared to call the state Legislature back for another special session in November if lawmakers can come up with enough votes to pass a transportation package.

“This is a statewide economic issue of congestion,” said Inslee, who warned that the state’s highways, roads and bridges are going to “deteriorate at a rapid rate if we do not act this year.”

Inslee’s remarks came at a joint press conference on Tuesday with King County Executive Dow Constantine in Seattle. King County Metro could face a 17 percent cut in bus service — or one out of five bus routes — if the state does not adopt a revenue package by next year, Inslee said.

“We cannot allow 2014 to pass without an answer to this problem,” Constantine said.

In June, the House approved a $10 billion dollar transportation package that would have raised gas taxes by 10.5 cents. The tax money would have paid for maintaining state’s roads and bridges, as well as funding major new projects like the Columbia River Crossing bridge between Oregon and Washington.

The Senate Majority Coalition did not bring the package up for a vote before the end of session. Many Republicans in the Senate oppose the Columbia River Crossing project because it includes light rail into Vancouver, Washington.

Inslee said Tuesday he’s considering other options for funding the Columbia River Crossing so that it won’t block passage of a transportation package.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom issued a statement in response, saying that the Senate did not vote on a transportation package in June because the House sent a “transportation wish list over to the Senate, but no bond bill ever followed” to pay for the projects.

Tom said any new transportation package must have the support of taxpayers.

The co-chairs of the Senate Transportation Committee, Republican Sen. Curtis King and Democrat Sen. Tracey Eide, have scheduled several “listening tours” this fall to hear from the public on their transportation priorities and concerns.

Watch Tuesday’s press conference below: