Washington governor signs $17 billion transportation package

A transportation revenue package of nearly $17 billion over 16 years that will pay for a variety of projects across the state, including the construction of four new hybrid electric ferries, was signed Friday by the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee.

Inslee split its signing ceremonies between two cities, starting in the morning at the Mukilteo ferry terminal to sign the receipts portion of the package. Later in the afternoon, he was to go to Tacoma to sign the invoice which covers the projects paid by package.

“There’s no way to tackle climate change without tackling transportation and that’s what these bills do,” Inslee said. “In this package, we combine the ability to get better and more efficient transport with how to save our climate.”

The plan gets $5.4 billion of its funding from a carbon pricing program enacted last year that requires the state’s largest emitters, like refineries, to buy credits for allowable emissions. they exceed a ceiling set by the regulators. The rest comes from several other sources, including federal infrastructure money, state budget funding, and higher fees on licenses and upgraded license plates.

In addition to the new ferries, it is electrifying two existing ferries and providing funding for more pedestrian and bike lanes, highway maintenance, and meeting the state court’s requirement to replace crossing culverts. Pisces. Funding is also provided to ensure people 18 and under can travel for free on public transportation, including state ferries and Amtrak.

It is also paying the state’s share of the cost – $1 billion – to replace the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River that connects Washington and Oregon.

Republicans, who are the minority party in both houses, continued to express frustration at not being part of what was normally a bipartisan process in the past, and said the new fees people would pay would affect residents. already facing high inflation. and rising gas prices.

The cost of a new license or improved ID, which people will eventually need to travel domestically under the REAL ID Act if they don’t have a passport or other ID. qualifying identity, will drop from $78 currently for a six-year license to $96. . And the cost of a license plate for a new car will increase from $10 to $50.

And the fee new residents pay when first registering their car in Washington to verify it’s not stolen will increase from $15 to $50 on July 1 and then to $75 in 2026.

Representative Andrew Barkis, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, said his proposal to use and redirect existing revenue in a way that would have avoided fee increases was not taken up. into account.

“We have to take care of our transport system,” he said. “This process cut off the entire Republican delegation. We weren’t considered in the policy.”

Democratic Senator Marko Liias, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the package “forever changes the framework of our approach to transportation in this state.”

“It will no longer be the amount of concrete we can pour,” he said. “The answer will be how many people and how much freight can we move on these corridors.”

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