Washington state Democrats pitch fuel tax hike

| 3/31/2003

Washington state House Democrats Tuesday unveiled a 10-year, $2.6 billion transportation plan anchored by a 3-cent fuel tax increase, according to local media.

The revenue-and-project plan is just a third the size of Referendum 51, which voters soundly rejected last fall. That $7.8 billion plan sought a 9-cent increase in the state’s 23-cent-a-gallon fuel tax.

House Transportation Chairman Ed Murray, D-Seattle, told KGW television the new plan was “a small step forward.” The package was purposely kept small because of the current recession, high fuel prices and the voters’ strong rejection of R-51, he said.

In addition to the 3-cent fuel tax increase, the proposal includes a 15 percent increase in truck-weight fees and a 0.6 percent tax on new and used vehicle purchases. Proceeds from the sale of bonds would also be part of the plan.

The House Democrats’ plan would be enacted by the Legislature – not put to a public vote – and would contain an emergency clause so the law would take effect immediately.