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Backers Of Washington Gas Tax Package Rally At Capitol

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

Pressure is mounting on Washington state lawmakers to approve a gas tax increase to fund road projects. Backers of the 10-cents-per-gallon proposal rallied at the state Capitol Monday. They’re pushing for a vote during the current 30-day overtime session.

The scene on the steps of the Capitol featured hardhats, signs and the chant “Pass it now. Pass it now.”

“Pass it now” refers to a proposed $8 billion transportation funding package. It has the backing of Governor Jay Inslee and a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups. The tax hike would fund a slate of new road projects including a freeway extension to the Port of Tacoma, the North Spokane corridor and, potentially, a new bridge over the Columbia River.

Senate Transportation co-chair Tracey Eide, a Democrat, highlighted that last project in her speech to the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen we cannot afford to not build this bridge. We need to build it,” she said to applause.

But the Columbia River Crossing, as the project is called, has fierce critics. That controversy alone could derail the push for a transportation funding package.

It’s been nearly a decade since the last gas tax hike passed in Washington.

On the Web:

SB 5920: Transportation funding bill - Washington Legislature

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."