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Gas Tax Package Fall Short In Washington House

Theresa Murray

A proposal to raise Washington’s gas tax by 10.5 cents to fund transportation projects has failed in the state House. Supporters Wednesday came up one vote short. But they vow to try again.

The transportation revenue package would raise $10 billion for maintenance and preservation of existing roads and to fund new projects. The proposal calls for a 6 cent gas tax increase this summer followed by another 4.5 cent increase next July.

On the House floor, Republican Ed Orcutt blasted the proposal as an unaffordable tax hike. He said, “It’s going to come in August when our gas taxes are normally high and that’s going to hit hard a lot of people.”

The gas tax package has the support of a broad coalition of business, labor and environmental groups.

Democrat Marko Liias says the failed vote will serve a purpose. “We now know who’s opposed so we now know who we need to be talking to to get to 50 and we only need one.”

The gas tax package is also a top priority of Democratic Governor Jay Inslee. Several of his senior staff watched the failed vote from the House wings.

On the Web:

HB 1954: Gasoline tax proposal - Washington Legislature 
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."