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Washington Gas Tax Increase Proposal Faces Bumpy Road

Kristen Steele

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A proposal to raise Washington’s gas tax by ten cents faces a bumpy road in Olympia. House Democrats rolled out the idea Wednesday as part of a $10 billion transportation funding package, but it faced immediate opposition.

The plan comes from House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn. It would increase Washington’s gas tax two-cents per gallon per year for five years. House Republicans quickly pointed out that when fully implemented, the state’s fuel excise tax would be 47.5 cents per gallon – higher than any other state today.

But Clibborn says Washington’s transportation system is in desperate need of an upgrade.

“I think we all agree it’s time to stop kicking the can down a crumbling road and get ready to fix it.”

Clibborn’s plan also imposes a Motor Vehicle Excise tax, an increase in the state’s Hazardous Substance tax and a hike in commercial vehicle weight fees. Even bicycle riders would pay up with a $25 fee on bikes over $500.

The bulk of the money – nearly $4 billion – would pay for major projects like the new I-5 Columbia River Crossing. Another $2 billion would go to maintaining existing roads and bridges.

The Washington legislature last approved a nine cent gas tax increase eight years ago.

On the web:

Transportation Package - Washington House Democrats
Gasoline tax rates by state - Tax Foundation

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."