Eastside legislators say more work is needed on regional
transportation financing measure

Olympia, WA 2-1-02 - A regional transportation financing bill which passed the House Thursday
falls short of providing needed solutions to relieve Central Puget Sound
traffic congestion, say Eastside Republican lawmakers.

Reps. Cheryl Pflug, Glenn Anderson, Ida Ballasiotes, Fred Jarrett, Steve
Van Luven, Luke Esser, and Toby Nixon joined together to vote no. However,
Democrats passed the measure, 51-44.

"We do need a regional transportation financing package for King, Pierce
and Snohomish counties. However, this bill has many problems," said Pflug,
R-Maple Valley. "It can t be just any regional package. It needs to be one
that s really going to deliver projects that are important to the region
and gives voters an opportunity to vote for something that will make a
difference in their lives."

The "Eastside Seven" say they are concerned that House Bill 2359 takes too
much money away from "mega-projects" that could relieve traffic congestion.
Instead, it siphons those funds for maintenance and operations of existing
roads and provides 30 percent for cities and counties to be used on smaller

"Unfortunately, the House Democrat-sponsored regional bill relies on the
same failed practices that got us into this mess in the first place," said
Anderson, R-Fall City. "The bipartisan Senate bill is a much better
opportunity to deliver results."

"We need a regional bill that is focused on reducing congestion and solving
problems, and this bill doesn't do either," said Rep. Luke Esser,
R-Bellevue. "The Senate passed a bipartisan regional bill that will make it
possible to expand I-405 and other major highways, and the House should
follow suit."

Rep. Fred Jarrett, R-Mercer Island, offered an amendment that, among other
things, would have provided 90 percent funding for major traffic congestion
relief projects. Ten percent would have gone to city and county local
projects to address arterial needs. Jarrett s amendment also would have
provided specific performance audits, exempted motor vehicles from a
proposed 0.5 percent sales and use tax increase, and eliminated language
calling for highway tolls.

"I believe the House Republican amendment combined the best of the Senate
proposal and the best of the House Democrat proposal," said Jarrett. "I am
eager to move forward and work with the Senate and House Democrats to
perfect this bill so we can finally begin to relieve the traffic congestion
in our state."

The Democrat-approved measure would allow counties to authorize
voter-approved revenue sources as well as modify existing taxes to provide
additional revenue for transportation within their boundaries. Counties
would be able to select from a list of revenue options, including:
$100 vehicle license renewal fees
A commercial parking tax
A sales and use tax increase of up to 0.5 percent
Tolls on new improvements
A local option motor vehicle excise tax of up to 0.3 percent and an
employer excise tax of up to $2 per employee per month for HOV lane
A local option fuel tax
Transit and motor vehicle excise taxes for transit use

"This is really way out there. It has a tax on just about everything that
moves," said Ballasiotes, R-Mercer Island, "and it doesn t use the money
efficiently or effectively to get the job done."

"One thing is certain. We need to have final legislation that will work,"
added Nixon. "Failure is not an option. Any funding package that comes out
of negotiations with the Senate will have to be connected to a specific
list of projects that we can support. And it will have to be credible."

The Eastside Republicans say they hope to get a place at the negotiating
table to provide a regional financing package that will effectively address
traffic congestion on the major local highways.

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