CHOKEPOINTS

Democratic lawmakers propose massive gas tax increase to fund transportation

Jan 19, 2021, 5:24 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm
washington gas prices, gas tax...
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

As Washington families struggle with the pandemic-induced recession and job losses due to stay-at-home orders, Washington House Democrats have proposed a series of major tax increases to fund transportation projects.

WSDOT more than $1 billion in the red

House Transportation Committee Chair Jake Fey (D-27) unveiled a bold $26 billion, 16-year transportation package on Tuesday that would be funded by an 18-cent per gallon gas tax increase. The first 10-cent hike would come this year, with an 8-cent increase the following year. There would also be a gas tax increase tied to inflation to follow. Diesel prices would also increase.

House Democrats would fund the package with a new tax of $15 per metric ton of carbon emissions, which would increase to $20, and then $25 in 2025.

“Our proposal is much more substantial than any in state history because the needs and challenges are so much bigger,” Rep. Fey said in a video press conference. “These include long overdue investments, help for frontline communities, and carbon reduction to fight climate change.”

Fey said he and other members of the committee held 90 listening sessions with constituents to help craft this plan.

More than half of the money raised would go to maintenance and preservation. Washington Department of Transportation head Roger Millar told a group earlier this month that the agency only spends $550 million a year on maintenance and preservation, a figure he said is about half of what’s necessary.

More than $3 billion would go toward fish passage restoration, which the state is under a federal court order to do.

According to WSDOT, Washington state currently has the fourth-highest gas tax in the country at 49.4 cents a gallon, last raised in 2016. If approved, this 18-cent a gallon increase would give Washington the highest gas tax in the nation.

Seattle cancels plans to repair five bridges after costs soar 991%

When asked by a reporter if it was a good idea to raise taxes during a recession, especially a tax that would hurt lower-income families, Rep. Fey replied: “We are facing, because of COVID, revenue reductions, so in some respects if we don’t do this, we’re going to be in the position of cutting projects.”

Fey added that there is never a good time to raise taxes.

The Senate Democrats are expected to release their transportation project soon. It’s expected to be similar to the package floated the last few sessions, and is a smaller package that also relies on a gas tax increase and some carbon-related taxes.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

Chokepoints

Trash is strewn along an Interstate 5 freeway on-ramp as viewed in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by G...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: A glance at current Washington state laws to avoid littering on the road

Littering is still a huge problem on our roads, but are you still required to carry a trash bag in your car?
7 days ago
Expansion joints underneath I-5 (KIRO Newsradio)...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 expansion joint repair will hamper your summer driving

If the weather holds, southbound I-5 will be shut-down this weekend through Seattle for the first of a summer’s worth of weekend closures for expansion joint repairs.
12 days ago
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

ORCA card gets a reboot with instant value transfer feature

The new site and app will allow more than five million users to add money to their accounts instantly alongside 6,000 new card readers and vending machines.
15 days ago
fare...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Sound Transit passes fare reform with diminished ridership accountability checks

Sound Transit no longer has mechanisms in place to check I-D's and track who isn't paying in the first place with their decision to remove law enforcement from the fare enforcement process.
18 days ago
Expansion joints I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Work to remove bumps along I-5 through downtown Seattle set to bring months of weekend closures

Workers are about kick off work to remove those bumps on I-5 through Seattle, but it's going to come with a heavy price for drivers.
26 days ago
WSDOT, HOV lanes...
Chris Sullivan

Northbound HOV optimism and aggressive litter cleanup in Puyallup

Nearly every morning on the KIRO Newsradio text line, I receive this question: When will the northbound HOV lane open?
28 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Democratic lawmakers propose massive gas tax increase to fund transportation