By Jerry Cornfield
Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs isn’t giving up on getting a transportation package passed this session.
Today he distributed a proposal for a $12 billion package he hopes will jump start negotiations between the Democratic and Republican caucuses.
“I put this plan together in my own vision and take full responsibility for its contents,” he wrote in an email to fellow senators. “This package does not constitute an offer by any caucus in the legislature; rather it is just another option to consider.”
It tracks closely to proposals put forth by the House Democrats and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Curtis King.
It gets its money from an 11.75-cent increase in the gas tax plus higher weight fees. And it allots $6.5 billion for highway projects, $1 billion for highway preservation, and $123 million for constructing a third 144-car state ferry.
Overall, it seeks to resolve concerns expressed in months of talks on the package but also requires sacrifice from both political parties.
For example, Hobbs’ plan puts more money into transit than Senate Republicans have supported. He also diverts sales tax collected on future projects into the transportation budget, an idea detested by many Democrats.
He explained his rationale in the email.
I crafted this plan to show that the potential for compromise exists on all sides – that includes policy and funding issues. In other words all stakeholder groups will have aspects they like and those they don’t, but that, after all, is the nature of compromise.
I know the appetite to solve this issue for our state exists. I have reached out to a few members of both parties and they have indicated to me that they would be willing to support this plan but did not want to buck their respective caucuses.
I hope you will view this as an additional option rather than an opening to “shoot the messenger.” I in no way mean to agitate or upset an ongoing process meant to bring forth a transportation package this state badly needs.
King said he received a copy Thursday but had not had time to study the details. He sounded pessimistic about it breaking the deadlock.
Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, applauded Hobbs.
“He has done a phenomenal job of getting people involved. He is trying his darndest as I did,” she said.