Senate holds off from vote on gas tax to work on similar plan



Olympia, WA - The Senate will delay a vote on its gasoline-tax-funded road construction plan while House members build support for something similar, state Sen. Dan Swecker said Wednesday.

The Republican from Rochester helped write the plan, which raises $9.1 billion for 200 projects statewide by increasing the gas tax by 15 cents over 12 years.

Swecker is trying to persuade his party members to support the measure, he said, but it's not likely to come to a vote until the senators have some assurance the House also will make such a vote.

Votes for a 5-cent increase in the gas tax in 2003 were used unfairly against both Democrats and Republicans in the last elections, Swecker said.

Rep. Ed Murray, the Seattle Democrat who heads the House Transportation Committee, said he'll release a plan Monday.

"We're still in the process of developing it and negotiating with our own members," Murray said.

He wants to increase taxes to pay for his transportation budget, and building support for it has proven no more difficult than passing a 5-cent increase in the gas tax two years ago, Murray said.

Swecker defended his plan against readers who sent several challenges to the tax via e-mail for an interview on the Olympian's Web site. He said the construction projects would improve the economy and create jobs.

"My feeling is, if we're going to spend public money on anything, this is the exact right time to do it," he said.

More than a third of the money raised by Swecker's plan, $3.2 billion, would pay for two major projects in King County: replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the state Route 520 floating bridge.

Adam Wilson covers state workers and politics for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-753-1688 or


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