Washington bills seek to ensure transportation money is well spent

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2014 regular session, Washington state lawmakers are pursuing plans to ensure transportation spending is used appropriately.

Two bills from Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, are intended to help make sure money is used for transportation purposes.

Shea has been critical of ongoing efforts at the statehouse this year to increase the state’s 37.5-cent-per-gallon fuel tax rate. Instead, he said the state would be well served to enact reforms to help ensure money already available to the state is spent wisely.

The first bill – HB2094 – would require that sales and use tax revenue resulting from state Department of Transportation expenditures to be allocated to the motor vehicle account. The revenue now is deposited into the state’s general fund.

Another bill from Shea could affect perceptions from travelers about the state’s interest in art alongside roads, trails and bike paths. Specifically, HB2092 would prohibit using money designated for transportation from being used for works of art.

Advocates say that money allotted for transportation purposes should be used to benefit commerce and commuters. They say that applying transportation money to non-road uses doesn’t aid travelers as they drive along roads in the state that need repairs and other improvements.

Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, filed a separate bill that is intended to promote transparency in government.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law earlier this year to create a user-friendly online map to display capital and transportation spending by legislative district and county. The map is expected to be completed in January 2014.

Hawkins introduced a bill, HB2104, for lawmakers to consider after the first of the year that would expand information provided to include a link to state contracts.

“It is worthwhile for us to continue providing information about how taxpayers’ dollars are spent,” Hawkins said in a news release.

The bills can be considered during the session that begins Jan. 13, 2014.

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