Yesterday, with a bipartisan 20-10 vote, the House Transportation Committee passed their budget that was rolled out late last week.
The $8.4 billion budget allocates $4.9 billion for existing capital projects, and $3.5 billion for operating programs. The sum represents a decline of about $1.4 billion from the previous biennial transportation budget, primarily due to declining revenue from the state’s gas tax.
Some highlights include: stabilizing the Washington State Patrol, Washington Ferry System, and Department of Transportation budgets; funding the continued construction of the SR 99 Tunnel, 520 floating bridge, I-90 improvements and North Spokane Corridor expansion; and implementing efficiencies to make transportation dollars go further. A full summary is available here.
House Democrats acknowledge that this budget is only a stopgap measure to fund our transportation system for the next two years. Both Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn and Vice-Chair Marko Liiaspointed out that additional revenue will be necessary before the next biennial budget in order to prevent gridlock and agency shortfalls.
The budget, House Bill 1864, will go to the Rules Committee and then proceed to the floor of the House for a vote by the full chamber. The Senate has released their own version, but the differences are small and are expected to be resolved when the two bodies conference.