Despite voters' resounding 'no' at the polls, Locke still hopes to increase gas tax



SEATTLE – Six weeks ago, voters overwhelmingly said no to a gas tax increase though Referendum 51. Now, Gov. Gary Locke says he would support an increase without voter approval.

Even though gas prices have been coming down lately, many people don’t want to pay any more at the pump as necessary, but after the next legislative session, drivers may not have a choice.

Legislators may soon be crafting a way to squeeze a bit more out of you at the pump.

"The roads aren't going to fix themselves, they aren't going to get safer by themselves, and congestion won't improve by itself,” said Locke.

The governor and transportation leaders are hoping the legislature will put together a package to increase the gas tax by 3 or 4 cents, without voter approval.

Photo KING
Gov. Locke says the roads won't fix themselves.

"I wouldn't like that at all, I don't make much money as it is, and I think gas is expensive as it is,” said Melissa Sines, consumer.

"I still have to buy gas, so this is probably the easiest way to raise money, as unfortunate as that is for all of us who have to work, but it’s probably the easiest way for him to do it because he certainly isn’t going to get an income tax passed," said Cris Anderson, consumer.

On November 5, voters had their say on Referendum 51 – an $8.7 billion transportation package that would have increased the gas tax by 9 cents a gallon. The idea was decisively rejected.

In response to the new increase idea, anti-tax guru Tim Eyman e-mailed supporters Friday saying, "We can call Locke's gas tax increase the ‘Stadium Sequel.’ Voters vote one way, Locke ignores them and jams it through anyway.”

Locke says the package would be a lot different this time around.

"It needs to be substantially smaller and we need to focus on projects that are ready to go and also put thousands of people to work in the private sector, like construction companies, highway companies, because we also need jobs right now. There are too many people out of work," said Locke.

So far, there is no plan on the table, they are simply ideas that the governor and leaders are talking about and Locke is hoping that the Legislature can put something together in the next session that the public could accept.


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