Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on July 15 approved a package of bills to generate $16 billion in new revenue over 16 years in order to pay for state transportation infrastructure maintenance and modernization.
The plan includes an 11.9 cents-per-gallon state gas tax increase (with 7 cents being implemented on Aug. 1, 2015, and the remaining 4.9 cents taking effect on July 1, 2016), and an increase in transportation-related fees, including those for overweight vehicles. The package also boosts General Fund appropriations for transportation projects, and grants authority for the state Department of Transportation to sell $5.3 billion in general obligation (GO) bonds.
Additionally, Sound Transit residents are now permitted to vote on a plan to increase taxes for an additional $15 billion in order to expand the region’s light rail system. The measure could appear before voters as soon as November 2016.
The transportation funding package will create an estimated 200,000 new jobs for Washington state.
Upon singing the bills, Governor Inslee stated: “I laid out a transportation vision for our state in which transportation truly works as a system. No more east versus west. No more urban versus rural. No more roads versus transit. This package represents the largest single investment in transportation in state history. I appreciate the hard work legislators on both sides of the aisle put into crafting a package that will maximize these dollars so we can grow jobs, improve safety and provide commuters more choices all throughout Washington.”