Washington state Republicans: 'Let's make a deal'

| Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Washington state House Republicans offered last week to help hike the state’s fuel tax by a nickel – but only after Democrats help enact five transportation reform bills, according to local media.

Those reforms: allowing private companies to operate passenger-only ferries, streamlining permits, requiring performance audits, contracting projects out to the private sector and changing wage rules.

The GOP proposal could generate $2.5 billion if nearly all of the 5-cent increase were used to borrow money, The Bellingham Herald reported. All of it would have to be spent on highways and auto ferries.

Republicans would be willing to approve the increase without sending it to voters for approval. But the plan specifies that for each measure that fails to pass as written or that is vetoed by the governor, one penny would be knocked off the fuel tax increase.

In November, voters flatly rejected the Legislature’s $7.8 billion transportation plan for a 9-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase, higher trucking fees and a 1 percent additional sales tax on vehicles.

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