Senate majority ready to talk about transportation funding package

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Thursday, August 8, 2013 10:02am
  • Local News

As expected, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus today announced plans to hold hearings on ways to raise billions of dollars for transportation improvements and reform how the state spends its money on road projects.

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, co-chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, today called for seven public meetings around the state at which residents and civic leaders can tell lawmakers where new money should be spent and policies they think need to be changed.

“In order to pass a transportation package of any substance there will likely be a need for additional revenue to pay for projects,” King said in a statement. “But before we go to the people asking for more money, the state needs to prove that it’s already stretching every dollar it has. We’ve compiled a list of ten reforms that could be implemented to save millions of dollars with minimal impact to other areas of the budget, and it’s our intention to discuss those ideas with (Department of Transportation) and the public at these meetings.”

King wrote Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson suggesting a schedule of meetings starting Sept. 18 in Tacoma. Subsequent meetings would be held in Vancouver, Seattle, Everett, Wenatchee, Spokane and Tri-Cities.

King wrote that after the meetings “a final negotiated transportation revenue package and agreed upon reforms would be put into legislative form and introduced in both chambers at the first available opportunity.”

A DOT spokesman said the secretary had received the letter and was reviewing it.

Transportation funding was one of the most debated issues in the regular session and two special sessions this year. House Democrats drew up a $10 billion funding package and finally passed it at the end of the second special session. It never came up for a vote in the Senate which is controlled by a coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats.

The coalition is now ready to start the conversation. A key for members is getting serious consideration of 10 reforms including speeding up the permitting process and changing requirements related to prevailing wages.

But Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, one of the two Democrats in the coalition, said they are not demanding action on all the reforms before a vote is taken on funding.

He said the coalition is “trying to move this forward and gather information so we can come up with a package that has the buy-in of the public.”

Here is the proposed schedule:

Sept. 18, WSDOT Olympic Region Office in Tacoma

Sept. 24, WSDOT Southwest Region Office in Vancouver

Oct. 1, WSDOT Northwest Region Office in Seattle

Oct. 7, WSDOT Northwest Region Office in Everett (focus on Snohomish County)

Oct. 14, WSDOT North Central Region Office in Wenatchee

Oct. 22, WSDOT Eastern Region Office in Spokane

Oct. 30, WSDOT South Central Region Office meeting in Tri-Cities

More in Local News

Local police join thousands honoring slain Canadian officer

Abbotsford Const. John Davidson was killed Nov. 6 in a shootout with a suspected car thief.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

No easy exit from Smokey Point shopping complex

There’s just no easy exit on this one. A reader called in… Continue reading

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

City Council OKs initial funding for Smith Avenue parking lot

The site of the former Smith Street Mill is being developed in anticipation of light rail.

Single fingerprint on robbery note leads to arrest

The holdup occurred at a U.S. Bank branch in Lynnwood in June.

Two windsurfers rescued from Port Susan near Kayak Point

The men had failed to return to shore during Sunday’s windstorm.

Yes to turn signal — eventually

Adding a right-turn signal at 112th St. and 7th Ave. is turning out to be a bit more complicated.

Mill Creek councilman no longer lives in city, panel finds

The Canvassing Board determined Sean Kelly is not eligible to vote there.

Most Read