A few days ago we reported how WA State House Democrats (and Senators) were proposing a very controversial $.6 cent-per-gallon tax on refined fuel leaving WA for AK, OR, Idaho, and other Pacific Northwest areas. It would be used to help pay for their state transportation budget proposals.
Other states, including Alaska, promised economic retaliation
The proposal, which our PNW neighbors said violated the Federal Commerce Clause, set off a firestorm, and it was dropped.
However, to fund their transportation budget, House Democrats amended the plan to take $100 million dollars from the state’s Public Works Assistance Fund. The fund is state money used to help cities and counties with various projects, ranging from water and sewer repairs and projects to roads, bridges, and more.
So, the legislature is taking money away that would help, for example, Kennewick, or Benton City or Walla Walla repair a much-needed sewer system, or road, and putting it towards state goals.
Not all transportation money is going towards much-needed road repair
Tens of millions of dollars, if not more, in this bloated transportation package is going for what many GOP leaders say are ‘sinkhole’ projects such as light rail in King County, and other disappointing and so far ‘failed’ transportation entities.
GOP House Rep. Mike Steele (12th District-Chelan) is the ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee, and he said this about raiding the Public Works Fund:
“We have a pipeline, Mr. Speaker, of over a billion dollars’ worth of projects the next two to four years. And yet, here we are tonight on the floor of this House, contemplating taking away one of the most vital tools that local jurisdictions, counties, and cities, have to finance very real projects.”
According to John Sattgast, GOP House Broadcast Coordinator, Democrats approved the amendment taking the money from the Public Works Fund, approved the transportation package, and sent it on to the Senate, all without any Republican support.
The Senate will now take up the matter.