Gov. Jay Inslee surprised Republican senators this week with an offer to delay his pursuit of a low carbon fuel standard that has been a major obstacle to getting agreement on a transportation revenue package.
Inslee, in a June 22 letter, said he would not seek a new standard until 2018. In exchange, he wanted the commitment of GOP senators to pass four specific bills aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
He also wanted the Senate to support a transportation package that contained the full $15 billion authorization sought by Sound Transit for its next phase of expansion.
And he wanted senators to nix a provision in the GOP package that would divert millions of dollars for public transit into road projects if Inslee went ahead with a new fuel standard.
Not surprisingly, GOP senators turned down the deal and countered with one of their own
Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, responded the next day to say the 3-year delay wasn’t long enough. He suggested postponing action until 2023 and the trigger for diversion of dollars would be retained.
He said the list of bills Inslee wanted to be acted on is unrealistic and offered a few of his own bills as better options.
And King wrote that there’s a lot of money already earmarked in the Senate-approved package in support of buses, bikes, sidewalks that will help reduce congestion and carbon emissions.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the most environmentally-friendly transportation package in state history,” he wrote.
Judging by the letters, this is the largest remaining issue standing in the way of an agreement on a 16-year transportation package.
Earlier this week a coalition of businesses, environmental groups, labor unions, cities, counties and political leaders from around the state signed a letter to Inslee and lawmakers urging them to act.