December 9, 2019
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Lower car-tabs are on hold, but state, city officials plan for transportation cuts



The saga of Initiative 976 continued last week when the state Supreme Court denied an emergency motion by the state attorney general to uphold the will of voters. Opponents say the measure is unconstitutional over confusing ballot language.

The denial means state and local governments will continue to collect the higher car-tab taxes. But public works officials and state legislators told Crosscut they're not counting on it. Lawmakers are still looking to trim about $478 million from the state transportation budget.

"I don't see that we have any other choice," said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington. "If we just assume the court is going to overturn the initiative and it doesn't happen, we'll find ourselves in a bigger hole."

State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said lawmakers will want to avoid raising taxes in an election year. All 98 House members and about half of the Senate's 49 members will face election in November 2020.

City officials will continue to collect the funds, but set them aside for now in several locations, the news site reports.

Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson said her city of 5,000 collects about $104,000 a year through a $20 license-tab fee. That will be eliminated if the initiative goes into effect, and the city won't spend anything from those fees until the court case is decided.

"Hopefully, they settle this thing quickly, because we're all out there in limbo," Johnson said.

The chair of the House Transportation Committee, Democrat Jake Fey of Tacoma, said he plans to propose a new gas tax package in 2021 that could get some of the canceled projects back on track, and also fund big projects like a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River and $3 billion to replace culverts for fish passageways.

The Seattle Times has more.

For more information, please contact AWB's Mike Ennis at 360.943.1600 or MikeE@awb.org.



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USMCA Now

Vote on U.S., Mexico, Canada trade agreement for the sake of Washington's economic growth

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Washington's Congressional delegation and Gov. Jay Inslee should advocate strongly for prompt approval of the new trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The nearly complete agreement is enormously important to Washington's economic growth and job creation. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) also substantially improves environmental and labor protections over NAFTA, the 1994 agreement it will replace...

Inslee's support is important. He was a strong advocate for NAFTA while in Congress in the 1990s.

But campaigning for president last summer, Inslee was skeptical of USMCA, siding with wary unions and environmental groups seeking more aggressive mandates...

With Inslee now seeking another term leading trade-dependent Washington, he should be more publicly supportive of progress USMCA makes and benefits it would bring the entire state.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
Speak up

Survey on Snake River dams is online. Help protect the region's economy and fill it out

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

We know December's to-do list is already long, but we've got an important task that must be added to your check-off list: Please fill out the state survey on the Snake River dams.

It can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/lsrdsurvey.

Don't delay.

We have been critical of this state effort since its proposal nearly a year ago, but now that written comments are being taken we encourage people to fill out the survey and let their voices be heard.

Read the full editorial in the Tri-City Herald.