March 11, 2019
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Senate Transportation Committee approves $15 billion package with carbon fee but no low-carbon fuel standard

The Senate Transportation Committee last week approved a $15 billion package proposed by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the chair of the committee. The package would fund bridges, highways, multi-modal, fish passage, road preservation, and other projects. The funding would come from a 6-cent increase in the state gas tax and a $15 per metric ton fee on carbon emissions.

AWB's Mike Ennis told The Seattle Times that employers would prefer to see transportation projects funded by gas taxes, rather than a new carbon tax.

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, proposed an amendment last week to gradually increase the carbon fee and to allow local governments to impose low-carbon fuel standards. Hobbs joined the ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, in opposing the amendment.

The newspaper reports a breakdown from Hobbs' office of how the transportation package would allocate the majority of the funding:

  • 29 percent - New roads
  •  29 percent - Stormwater improvements and culverts
  •  16 percent - Electrification (including ferries and electric-car incentives)
  •  12 percent - Road preservation and maintenance
  •  8 percent - Multimodal projects

The bill includes $450 million for a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River. That would come on top of $17.5 million that Gov. Jay Inslee has also proposed to restart an office dedicated to replacing the century-old bridge.

“This is only a down payment on what a new bridge will cost, of course, but we anticipate funding from other avenues, including our federal and Oregon state partners once we agree on a mutual vision for the new bridge,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, who serves on the Senate Transportation Committee. The Columbian has more.

Hobbs will answer questions from AWB members this Thursday at Lobby Lunch. For join the lunch or to learn more, contact Liv Johnson via email or at 360.943.1600. Registrations are due by 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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