February 12, 2018
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Administration unveils outline of infrastructure plan

The presidential administration has released its Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America, a broad look at its request to Congress for a package to rehabilitate the country's roads, bridges, tunnels and other key infrastructure points. The plan aims to use $200 billion in federal spending over the next 10 years to spur another $1.3 trillion in local investments.

Business Insider reports that the $200 billion in federal funds would include:

  • $100 billion in direct grants to local governments to help trigger investment;
  • $50 billion for block grants to rural areas;
  • $20 billion for large projects that can "lift the American spirit"; and,
  • $30 billion for existing infrastructure programs.

The plan also calls for a much quicker permitting review and cuts to "duplicative" environmental review procedures. The plan would set a 21-month deadline for most reviews, designating a lead federal agency to be in charge of each review and requiring other agencies to sign off on the decisions, reducing their ability to object later, according to The Hill.

Speaking earlier this month, an administration official said the plan could cut review times for projects from 10 years down to two.

“We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road,” the president said during his Jan. 30 State of the Union address.

Gov. Jay Inslee commented on the proposal, noting that Washington made a major investment in 2015 to build up the state's transportation system. He called on the federal government to invest more than just $200 million.

"His plan would essentially throw states a few Legos when what we really need is concrete and steel. His $1.5 trillion plan expects state, local and private partners to pick up more than 85 percent of the tab. States cannot and should not bear the burden of building a 21st century infrastructure system on our own," Inslee said.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that utility companies could soon be embarking on major infrastructure projects as a side effect of last year's tax code rewrite. Tens of billions of dollars could soon become available for modernizing the electric grid, installing pipelines or putting up wind farms.

In anticipation of a federal infrastructure push, AWB joined the state's associations of counties, cities and ports last year to commission a detailed report on Washington state's infrastructure needs, and the dividends that investment would pay.

Contact Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director for federal issues, or Mike Ennis, AWB government affairs director for infrastructure, to learn more.

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A Backdoor Gas Tax Increase

Inslee's carbon tax bill unfair to middle class

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Senate Bill 6203 will burden some people more than others, and that isn't fair.

The proposal -- also known as the carbon tax bill -- would impose an additional $10 per metric ton on carbon dioxide emissions in 2019. The amount would increase over time to $30 per metric ton by 2029.

The money raised would go to clean energy efforts and projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also might encourage more people to buy vehicles that don't run solely on fossil fuel, Inslee said.

But adding that extra tax will mean gas prices will go up, and so will heating bills.

An analysis by the Washington Policy Center estimates the average family will spend $125 more on gasoline per year in 2019, and $375 more a year in 2029 if the tax is approved...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
Supporting all Washington Manufacturers

Equal footing for economic growth

By The Kitsap Sun Editorial Board

On the whole our state's B&O is seen as a misguided tax by many, since its collections are based on gross rather than net profits, and cities, including here in Kitsap, have been working to minimize its impact on small businesses by gradually lowering local B&O rates. It's a particular tax reform that's generally helpful to small business without creating an unaccountable giveaway that hurts public coffers, when implemented wisely.

Last summer's state budget agreement included a provision to expand the lower state B&O rate beyond the aerospace sector, applying it to all manufacturers. The provision, pushed by the Republican caucus but agreed to by Democrats in budget negotiations, wouldn't have completely eliminated state B&O, but it would have put all manufacturers on equal footing. That's a fair request in a state where Boeing and aerospace receive a deserved share of economic credit but aren't the only engine driving our future.

The measure was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee, who stated at the time he disagreed with being caught off-guard by its inclusion in a budget deal. In our view that was disappointing, given the work that went into the agreement, but this session the idea is back -- actually, two versions of it are. Competing Senate bills were in the Ways and Means committee as of Friday, both of which would gradually lower the B&O rate for all manufacturers to what's paid by the aerospace industry to the tune of about $64 million over the next four years...

Read the full editorial in The Kitsap Sun
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