By Jerry Cornfield
Weeks of waiting are supposed to end Thursday when a member of the ruling majority in the Senate unveils a transportation funding package.
But leaders of the Majority Coalition Caucus tamped down expectations that what Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, is scheduled to release at a press conference will get a hearing or vote this session.
“We hope it helps ignite the discussion,” Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, told reporters today.
Last year House Democrats crafted then passed a nearly $10 billion transportation package. King, the lead Republican on transportation matters, later sketched out a $12 billion package of his own but never formalized it into a plan. Both ideas count on a gas tax increase of 11.5 cents.
Schoesler, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Sen. Linda Parlette, R-Wenatchee said today a spark is needed because there have been no negotiations between the House and Senate for weeks. They called on Gov. Jay Inslee to do more to get talks back on track.
“There’s a lot of work to do. We’re looking forward to the governor getting engaged, eventually,” Parlette said.
An Inslee spokesman reacted strongly to the insinuation the governor has not been engaged. Inslee conducted a dozen negotiating sessions in the fall and early winter and anticipated the Senate Majority Coalition would emerge with a proposal far sooner than Feb. 13.
“To suggest the governor has not played a role is utterly ridiculous,” said spokesman David Postman. “They have yet to put anything on the table for a transportation plan. The only thing they do is blame somebody else for their inability to come up with a proposal.”