Gas Tax or No Gas Tax in Special Session?

By Austin Jenkins, November 7, 2013, KPLU

As Washington lawmakers convene in an effort to win production of the next Boeing 777x, there’s already a dispute over whether one of the must-haves is a gas tax package for transportation improvements.

Gov. Jay Inslee insists the time is now, but some lawmakers say road funding can wait.

The governor has outlined a special session agenda that includes a roughly 10-cent gas tax hike to maintain roads and build new ones. He says the issue is a key priority for Boeing as well.

“We need a transportation package in order to secure this aerospace future for the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

In a follow-up interview, Inslee said a gas tax package can’t wait until next year. But Sen. Rodney Tom, a Democrat in charge of a largely-Republican coalition caucus, doesn’t sense the same urgency from Boeing.

“You know, transportation is important, but they understand, due to the complexities of it, that it might have to be a second phase element to this. So that’s the assumption that we’re working under,” said Tom, D-Medina.

Boeing has not commented so far. Either way, the governor’s timeline of a week to hammer out a bipartisan roads-and-transit funding deal will be, in the words of one top House Democrat, “an uphill battle.”

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