Washington state Senate OKs fuel tax

| 4/22/2003

The Washington state Senate approved a nickel fuel tax increase April 17 to pay for $4.1 billion of highway improvements and other transportation projects during the next decade, according to published reports.

The Senate plan would also include a 15 percent increase in truck-weight fees and a 0.3 percent tax on new and used vehicle purchases.

The plan still must be brought together with the House's recently passed $3.1 billion proposal, which includes a 4-cent-a-gallon fuel tax increase phased in over four years, The Seattle Times reported.

The House version, which calls for fuel taxes to be spent only on roads and car ferries, would increase truck weight fees by 15 percent and the sales tax on vehicles by 0.46 percent.

Both the House and the Senate bills would impose the transportation tax directly rather than put it to the voters in November, Longview's Daily News reported. Lawmakers want to avoid another defeat at the polls like last year's resounding rejection of Referendum 51, a $7.8 billion transportation tax package that included a 9-cent-a-gallon fuel tax increase.

Negotiators from both chambers have said they are close to forging a compromise. The goal is to strike a bargain before the legislative session ends April 27.