Inslee Wants Special Session on Transportation – If Lawmakers Agree on Package

Posted by Brian M. Rosenthal, September 3, 2013, Seattle Times

Declaring that “our state’s transportation challenges are not going away,” Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday morning that he will call a special session for November to deal with the issue — if lawmakers agree on a package that can pass.

But the Democratic governor provided few details about how that might happen just a few months after the Republican-run state Senate rejected a package last session.

In a Seattle news conference with King County Executive Dow Constantine, Inslee called on lawmakers to “step up to the plate.”

Constantine said “the consequences of continued delay are unacceptable,” citing looming 17 percent Metro Transit cuts that could eliminate 65 bus routes, among other impacts.

A transportation package approved by the state House last session could have helped stave off those cuts by giving local governments the option of a 1.5 percent vehicle renewal fee. It also would have raised the gas tax by 10 cents to fund road projects.

The package didn’t gain traction in the Senate, in part over concerns about funding for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project.

On Tuesday, Inslee said the CRC should not necessarily block a new package because he and Oregon officials are exploring other options to fund it.

Inslee promised a bipartisan push for the package.

“There are no bridges that are either Republican or Democratic,” he said.

Later this month, Senate leaders are planning to embark on a “listening tour” to six cities to talk transportation with residents.

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