Transportation tax package clears first hurdle

Democrats steered an $8.4 billion dollar transportation package out of the House Transportation Committee today. The proposal relies mostly on higher car tab fees and a 10-cent gas tax hike to pay for roads, bridges, ferries and transit services throughout the state

And they also inserted a provision allowing for another gas tax increase in the future to pay for the new Highway 520 bridge.

An amendment approved by Democrats permits the Secretary of Transportation to inflate the gas tax by another three cents — making for a 13-cent increase overall – and use those dollars to cover any financial loose ends in the Highway 520 project. That increase could be ordered any time after July 1, 2015, under the adopted amendment.

The package passed on a party-line vote.

Right after passing the revenue bill, the House panel approved all the projects, programs and services to be funded by the new revenue.

Snohomish County gained another $118.2 million in projects thanks to an amendment offered by Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace.

Originally, the county had been penciled in for six projects worth $203.7 million. With Moscoso’s amendment, the figure is $322 million and 16 projects.

A separate amendment offered by Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, directs $300 million in added spending on bike paths, pedestrian walkways and transit services.

Next stop for both bills is the Rules Committee.

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