SEATTLE -- The Washington State Senate Coalition presented its first transportation proposal to fellow lawmakers Saturday, opening long-awaited negotiations on a plan to fund road projects across the state.
Transportation funding, highlighted by Gov. Jay Inslee last week during the special session on Boeing tax breaks, was held up during prior special sessions when the Majority Senate Coalition, led by Republicans, rejected what was passed by the House.
The plan, made public Tuesday, includes fully funding the new SR 520 floating bridge, eliminating tolls on I-90 and completing a host of other projects across Washington. Funding would come from the cancellation of the Columbia River Crossing in Vancouver, and an increase in the gas tax of 11.5 cents.
While there was a level of optimism over the plan, Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma) pointed out some concerns.
"There are differences (between the House and Senate plans)," Fey said Tuesday, "Sometimes it takes a dramatic breakthrough to open things so you can get a bill passed in the legislature."
Fey and other Democrats expressed similiar concerns over reforms included in the proposal. For one, fewer resources are dedicated to public transit.
In addition, Fey said, sales tax revenue in the Senate proposal would not go into the general fund, but would instead be specifically dedicated for transportation.
That could potentially sap money from other needs like education, Fey suggested.
"There's things in the proposal to be liked and there's things that will need more information," said Fey.
Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima) and other Republicans on the Transportation Committee were unavailable Tuesday evening.
Negotiations on this issue are expected to pick up again later this month during committee days in Olympia.