The loose coalition of business, labor and environmental groups trying to develop a unified approach to passing a transportation tax package in the Legislature this year has sent formal letters to Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative leaders asking for action.
The letters ask for a package that makes “a significant down payment on the $50 billion need identified by the Connecting Washington Task Force.”
The request does not identify a dollar goal but Jeff Johnson of the Washington State Labor Council says his group hopes for a package in the vicinity of $20 billion, far more than the $5 billion-and-up that House Transportation Committee chair Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, is crafting. House Speaker Frank Chopp has indicated his priority this year is not transportation but the operating budget.
Those signing on include leaders of the Labor Council, the Washington Roundtable (representing Northwest corporate executives), Transportation Choices, Washington Conservation Voters and the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council.
The Association of Washington Business was offered a chance to sign but had not done so by the time the Jan. 22 letter was sent, but AWB president Don Brunell said the business group expected to sign.
Jerry VanderWood of the Associated General Contractors said his organization is talking to transportation leaders in the Legislature and is interested in getting a package passed. VanderWood said his group would be satisfied with a tax package worth $7 billion over 10 years.
Another coalition of transit groups has also announced its support for $400 million over 10 years to support public transit programs, as well as local options. Clibborn has said she is looking at weight fees on commercial vehicles and a motor vehicle excise tax of up to 0.7 percent to provide flexible funds for state ferries and transit programs. She also is eyeing a possible increase in the hazardous materials tax to pay for storm water projects sought by firstname.lastname@example.org