Inslee to area lawmakers: Step up for transportation package

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t backing away from his decision to fund just two new projects in Snohomish County over the next 12 years in his statewide transportation package.

And he’s not backing away from comments made this week to civic leaders in Arlington, where he said that only a third of the county’s delegation of state lawmakers have stepped up to the plate to help pass a package.

A spokesman said Friday that there is no nexus between the perceived lack of political support and the number of county projects included in the governor’s $12.2 billion proposal.

The Herald got it wrong with a story implying the governor made such a link in his remarks in Arlington, communications director David Postman wrote in an email response to questions.

“The Everett Herald is terribly confused on this point,” the statement read. “The governor said in Arlington what he has been saying all around the state for two years; lawmakers need to do more to pass a transportation package. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the list of projects in his package.”

Inslee has put forth a plan to invest $12.2 billion in state transportation over the next 12 years. Money would be spent fixing bridges, building roads, constructing ferries and expanding bus service.

It would complete a new Highway 520 floating bridge between Seattle and the Eastside suburbs and a new Mukilteo ferry terminal. It also opens the door for Sound Transit and Community Transit to seek funding for light rail and expanded bus service in Snohomish County.

It earmarks $82.8 million for four projects in Snohomish County. More than half, $45.4 million, is for a new interchange on Highway 526 at Hardeson Road in Everett to serve the Boeing Co. and other aerospace firms.

Lawmakers and community leaders hoped for much more. They’ve been pushing a list of 23 projects for two years.

The governor’s office said the chosen projects directly support Boeing’s 777X program. Meanwhile, the package creates a pool of $650 million that can be used to pay for other projects in Snohomish County and the rest of the state.

“The governor’s proposal doesn’t presume that projects and priorities that were important to legislators and stakeholders two years ago are still what’s important to folks today,” Postman wrote. “Everyone understands that there will be more for Snohomish County.”

On Wednesday, the governor hosted a roundtable in Arlington which his office billed as a chance to “discuss the importance of passing a transportation package and in particular investing in improvements to SR 531.”

As he’s done before, Inslee criticized the Legislature for its inability to approve something. And, as he usually does, he said the Republican majority in the Senate needs to act first this year if there is to be success.

In the meeting, the governor stressed the importance of community leaders urging lawmakers in both parties, in both chambers, to vocalize support for action. Public statements, he said, will create the momentum necessary to pass a package.

Inslee got specific about his frustration with the lack of public support he’s hearing from the county’s legislative delegation and urged those attending to get involved.

“Now let me explain the difficulty we have that local leaders have to be aware of,” he said. “There are 21 legislators from Snohomish County. That is the available pool to advance the interests of Snohomish County. Fully two-thirds of them have not put their shoulder to wheel on this.”

But Inslee’s assertion is based on outdated and incomplete information. He is drawing on the tally of the 2013 vote on a House package in which seven lawmakers from the county who are still serving voted for the bill.

The governor’s calculation excluded senators and doesn’t take into account new members of the delegation, nearly all of whom are likely to vote for a package.

The Herald reached out to the 21 lawmakers to assess where each stands on the subject. They were not asked to commit to any list of projects or revenue package — only whether they support getting the Legislature to act this session.

Of those, 13 could be deemed as strongly supportive based on interviews, emails, public statements or sponsorship of transportation budget bills. Another two conditioned their support on the specifics of how the money is raised and spent.

Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, is a strong supporter.

“It’s critical for Snohomish County — and for Washington — that we pass a transportation package,” he said. “In general, the choice is to do nothing or do something, and I think the second option sounds better.”

Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, was the only Republican in the delegation willing to broach the possibility of support.

“I would entertain a ‘yes’ vote with the right package,” she said. “Having some of the reforms will make it an even better package.”

Five Republican lawmakers said they are no votes but are open to changing their minds if the right marriage of reforms, projects and revenue comes together.

A sixth, Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe, seems a certain “no” vote. She opposes any new tax or increase in existing tax, which pretty much precludes voting for raising new revenue.

Postman declined to say if the governor knowingly used outdated information and, if so, why?

Several lawmakers were frustrated by the governor’s comments in Arlington because members of the delegation have been deeply involved in negotiations on a package in both chambers since 2013.

Inslee and members of his administration spent time Thursday and Friday trying to soothed lawmakers’ bruised feelings.

“I expressed my disappointment with his remarks,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-south Everett, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee and a sponsor of the bill to pay for the governor’s package.

He described the governor as apologetic and said Inslee admitted he could have been more articulate. The governor also said his statements in Arlington were mischaracterized, Liias said.

Postman declined to say whom the governor contacted or what they were told.

“The governor appreciates the leadership of many Snohomish County legislators, who are working to develop a package,” he wrote. “He remains optimistic that with collaboration on both sides of the aisle and serious purpose, we can get these critical investments across the finish line in 2015.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.