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Report: Washington Lawmakers Set to Propose 10-Cent Gas-Tax Hike

Rep. Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island told the Associated Press she will introduce the increase Wednesday as part of a larger transportation package.

A group of Democratic state lawmakers plans to unveil a transportation package Wednesday that includes a 10-cent gas-tax increase, the Associated Press reports.

Do you support a gas-tax increase? How do you think the state should fund transportation? Tell us in the comments section.

According to the AP, the effort is being led by Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), who chairs the House Transportation Committee. Washington's gas tax is currently 37.5 cents per gallon—one of the highest rates in the U.S.

The proposal comes after several King County officials asked the state to implement an eight-cent incease, which they say is needed to maintain the region's roadways and meet a growing demand for public transportation.

As the AP points out, the legislation is likely to receive stiff resistance in the Senate, currently under the control of a GOP coalition that includes majority leader Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue).

State officials have also said they are exploring a pay-by-the-mile transportation tax, but such a plan—if approved—would take several years to implement.

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Related coverage:

State Explores Pay-by-the-Mile Alternative to Gas Tax

Eight-Cent Gas Tax Hike Proposed by King 

Natalie Fujita February 20, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Are you kidding me?? Another gas tax! What?? Do the persons who are for this tax don't buy their own gas? This will effect so many low income citizens who can barely get by making minimum wage. We already pay bridge tolls, higher costs of groceries, & now you want to increase gas by 10 cents?! Think again! We're in a recession!
Lance Orloff February 20, 2013 at 05:31 PM
With all the tax money going into state coffers, and all the hands dipping into the pool, it is no wonder our waters are so muddy. The state needs certain funds to pay for critical infrastructure. The problem is that we have told our Governor we don't want to pay too much tax but we want non-critical services that those taxes used to be able to pay for. If we cut out all non-critical services, libraries, welfare entitlement, state parks, child protective services (for all the harm that agency does to families and children which far outweighs the good), salaries for politicians (it is a privilege to get under-the-table-kickbacks so why should we pay twice), roadside art projects, the revenue would easily pay for critical services. Then if we really like some feel-good happy inspiring service like state parks, we could vote for new taxes earmarked just for that. This plan has the added benefit that Mercer Island and Seattle won't have to worry about paying for the bridge work that they are the sole beneficiary of which is exactly why Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) is trying to get the rest of Washington to pay for her islands repair costs. I like Judy. She is really good at manipulation of the system. This makes her an effective politician who can effectively benefit her constituents without making them pay for what they get. I wish Iived in her district. I bet she is a shark and a snake. I wish my local politician was as conniving and effective.
p Cape February 20, 2013 at 08:24 PM
You've got to be kidding me, we are taxed to the hilt already.
Art Valla February 20, 2013 at 10:42 PM
If the choice is 10 cents to the state vs. 8 cents to the local government, take the 10 cent option. The Washington State constitution says the gas tax must be spent on roads. Not trains, buses, or bicycles. What has been proposed by the mayors and Dow Constantine would be a councilmanic vote to be spent any darned way the local government wants. That means King County expanding their navy, giving huge chunks of money to Metro, and maybe a bicycle path. Nothing for the automobile traffic or fixing the roads. One thing is certain, we don't want the King County council or the mayor of Kenmore deciding where the money should be spent.
Jeff February 20, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Last time it was a "progressive" 9 cents a gallon. We are fortunate to live in a state with no income tax...what makes anyone believe the money is going to be managed any better with more taxes. We can't tax our way out of our problems. I pay 4 dollars (along with most of you) for each trip across a bridge that I use. Do I like it? No! But I use it, I should pay for it. I90 should be the same. We need to have lawmakers (some good and some bad, never use general statements like "all of them") write a better budget. Funds are there, we pay 37.5 cents a gallon in tax people!!! Why hasn't that been enough, and when is enough??? And Jd brought up a good point, we aren't the only people that get slammed on higher gas tax, all the stores, restaurants, and businesses will too while bringing on more product. It is a lot like raising the minimum wage over and over. It WILL cause inflation in other products and services and who knows, it might not even go towards the projects we think it would.
Kevin Scheid February 20, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Are you aware that the toll planned for I 90 is going to pay for the 520 bridge interchange on a section of 520 that is not tolled. This is a little like tolling I-5 to pay for I-15 improvements since people using I-5 are wealthier than people using I-15. this is a dangerous precedent.
MJ Miller February 20, 2013 at 11:27 PM
In 2005, Gregoire raised the gas tax to 49.5 cents per gallon. She said it was to pay for over 200 road projects; including the new Alaska Way Viaduct, 520 Bridge, cross base Highway etc. To date we pay the highest gas tax in the nation, we did not get what we paid for and have some of the worst traffic congestion. Increasing the gas tax to 59.5 cents per gallon is not the answer. We were lied to on the last several increases. Not fooled again.
Lance Orloff February 20, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Thanks for the clarification Kevin. If I am aware of my geography, 520 does not support Mercer Island. Your point is well taken. I personally do not use either bridge so to me they are one and the same. Also, since I don't use either bridge, as most of Washington residents don't, I really am baffled by why I should pay the 10 cent tax to pay for something that in no way benefits me. It is effectively asking Spokane to pay for Seattle commercial revenue traffic. Of course, King County pays most of Spokane welfare expenses so I would also support eliminating that subsidy. Every morning on Q13 Fox news, I watch Adam give the traffic report. He says $1.62 toll on 520. King County people are lucky. Down here in Pierce County, we pay $4.00 to $6.00 toll for the Narrows Bridge. I propose that 520 start charging $6.00. Then the problems would be solved. Of course, we would have to tear down the I90 bridge to force everyone to use the 520. There is no second bridge across from Tacoma to the Olympic Penninsula. We could make the gas tax dependant upon whether or not the county has to pay $6.00 to cross the bridge. I propose that only King County residents pay the 10 cent tax since we in Pierce already pay exhorbinant fees to use our bridge.
Kevin Scheid February 20, 2013 at 11:39 PM
No one wants more taxes, but the question at hand is how does the state pay for the necessary road maintenance and construction. Assuming the gas tax of 37.5 cents per gallon is already used efficiently for roads, and if you believe the state government that there is a shortage of funds for all the critical road maintenance, then we have to decide where the money will come from. I would vote for a gas tax increase over a general increase in tolls since it is more progressive - you can decide to have a fuel efficient car or take the bus - and it will discourage gas usage, thus decreasing dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases. Tolls are appropriate for maintenance directly affecting the road being tolled and should not be used to fund other roads.
Mike Tanksley February 20, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Kevin, I didn't see the residents of Mercer Island complaining when I-90 was widened with general public funds, providing them with not only massive new parks on top of the lids, but also a private lane in and out of Seattle (M.I. residents can use the HOV lanes regardless of occupancy). Tolls are a great market tool - if you want to play, you pay... or you can make alternate choices.
Mike Tanksley February 20, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Lance, The money spent in Eastern Washington for roads far exceeds what is spent in Western Washington on a per capita/per mile basis. What that means is that it is Western Washington that subsidizes Eastern Washington infrastructure. So while Eastern Washington drivers are even more heavily subsidized than Western Washington drivers, the bigger point is that we are all subsidized when it comes to driving on our public road system. That subsidy comes out of general funds or, in the case of federal money, as debt passed on to our grandchildren.
Kevin Scheid February 20, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Lance, I agree that it does not seem fair to pay a gas tax that is used to purchase something you will never use. But of course we do that now to a certain extent. Our gas tax goes to pay for roads all over the state. Some of those roads we use and some we do not. So the planners decide to toll some bridges with exorbitant costs and not others. This seems reasonable, however, what if the people using the Tacoma Narrows bridge decided they were paying too much so there should be a toll placed on I-5 to make up the difference instead of increasing the bridge toll. Why shouldn't the people using I-5 pay for the bridge after all they are enjoying a road way built with tax money and they should share the pain. That does not seem reasonable to me. By the way, the rush hour toll on 520 is going up to $3.89 I believe, and state estimators believe the I-90 traffic has increased 11% because of the 520 tolls.
Lance Orloff February 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM
I completely agree with you Mike. Western Washington should not subsidize the failed experiment we call Spokane (which for all intents and purposes is Eastern Washington). And the Gig Harbor - Narrows Bridge which cost me $6.00 last time I crossed it should be enough to finance the Narrows Bridge. And $6.00 to cross the 520 bridge would be enough to finance 520. Then if we need money for the Mercer Island Bridge, we could either vote to have all of Washington to pay for their parks and art along the freeway or we could just toll those who enjoy the benefits of using the bridge. If we stop subsidizing failure and supporting non-essential services (such as parks and libraries) that are voted against by reducing every tax we can get our hands on my children would not inherit the $76 billion debt (I wanted to use another word) gregoir left us. http://www.usdebtclock.org/state-debt-clocks/state-of-washington-debt-clock.html
Kevin Scheid February 21, 2013 at 12:05 AM
Mike, Of course Mercer Island residents would not complain about widening I-90 with public funds just as users of I-5 did not complain about using public funds for improvements on I-5. The same can be said for any highway improvement paid for with public funds. Should those roads also be tolled to pay for 520 or whatever other project we need that we cannot afford. Also, you stated "Tolls are a great market tool - if you want to play, you pay... or you can make alternate choices." What would you consider an alternate choice for someone living on Mercer Island? I-90 is the only road off the island and they propose tolling it both ways.
Lance Orloff February 21, 2013 at 12:11 AM
Kevin, Narrows bridge tolls only cover Narrows bridge. This is fair. 520 tolls should do likewise. I 90 tolls (should there be such) should do likewise. Narrows bridge users are not asking Mercer Island to help pay the bill for Narrows bridge. In fact, there is talk of raising the toll on the Narrows bridge exactly because Narrows bridge users are not asking for Mercer Island to subsidize us, unlike Mercer Island and Seattle that wants others to contribute to a public welfare program to support their bridge. So while 520 may be going up to 3.89, it still pales in comparison to the $6 I paid last crossing and the $6 will likely be going up so rich King County people be happy for your lower cost of living (as regards tolls) compared to us less well off Pierce County citizens who pay more in tolls. And we don't have a lower toll off peak rate. Even better to have to be stuck with 520.
Mike Tanksley February 21, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Kevin, It is expensive to live on islands. Look at the increase in fees for using the ferries to the salt water islands. It is a user fee. As for the specifics of Mercer Island, I would suggest that the tolls be collected only at the east and west ends of the I-90 crossings. Thus M.I. residents would pay the toll in only one direction - a reasonable compromise. But this is distracting us from the bigger issue of the fact that we subsidize road/highway building and maintenance across not only our state but across the nation. These subsidies reduce the effectiveness of natural market forces by artificially reducing the cost of driving. If we paid enough through the act of driving to pay for the roads we drive on, people would makes different decisions as to where they live, what they drive, how much they drive, what sort of communities they desire to live in, etc. But, right now, the system subsidizes inefficiency. A $.10 increase in the gas tax would reduce that subsidy. It would take a $.40-$.50 increase to eliminate it, but the current $.10 proposal is a step in the right direction.
Mike Tanksley February 21, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Lance, I appreciate your agreement with my point, however I consider parks and libraries to be essential services. But they should be financed through means other than gas taxes. The majority of park acreage in my county was financed through a voter approved bond measure (Forward Thrust - 1969). We are thankful for their foresight. I wonder what my grandchildren will thank our generation for...
Lance Orloff February 21, 2013 at 12:40 AM
There is got to be a way to poll the readers of Patch. Ask everyone in the state. I suspect Mercer Island would be in favor of all of us paying instead of them. Seattle would be the same. Outside of Seattle, the vote would likely be overwhelmingly opposed. Let the beneficiaries pay for the benefits. Unless Seattle wants to volunteer to pay to reduce my bills reciprocally.
Lance Orloff February 21, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Mike, I am a strong supporter of parks and libraries, schools and 911 emergency services. If my property tax bill had line items for them, I would feel very happy to pay these taxes. But I would want each dollar earmarked for schools to go to schools, etc. The same goes for roads. If the citizens do not support a specific road, then conscensus law says that road is not worth our dollars. Then the beneficiaries of the specific road who need it could pay for it or move to where customers are. Parks and libraries are not essential to life. We should fund safety and health first. Schools second. Essential infrastructure to link viable cities third ( but having multiple options on how to get from Idaho to Seattle means one is essential, two roads are luxury). Cities should fund their own internal infrastructure. The rest is not essential to life. I also support music with my contributions. But that is voluntary because I enjoy the luxury of having libraries, arts, and parks. Many places don't have these luxuries and the people survive just fine. Put up a public vote for libraries and I will vote tax dollars for it but that is my personal desire and I would never force my desires to be paid by anyone else who did not wish to do so.
Paul Thorpe February 21, 2013 at 01:34 AM
All of the discussion about tolls & taxes is very interesting, but misses the point. What really needs to happen it the elimination of state sales tax on public infrastructure projects, including highways and bridges. Charging sales tax on highway projects is simply a way to divert highway funds to the general fund. On the toll question, the toll rates for the Narrows bridge should be used to set the tolls on 520 and I-90. If $4.00 to $6.00 is good for Gig Harbor, it is good for Bellvue and Mercer Island. 520 and I-90 need to be the same to eliminate toll shoping between the two bridges.
Ken Campbell February 21, 2013 at 03:34 AM
I am not sure why they haven't consulted with the other Washington..I am sure BO can tell them how to fund their transportation projects without `adding a single dime' to our costs...and with gas prices going up a dime a week..who would notice another couple of bucks per fill up..
Braunzie February 21, 2013 at 04:34 AM
I think it is time to get control of the transportation budget.
Natalie Fujita February 21, 2013 at 04:37 AM
Retail gas prices just jumped 40 cents in the last 2 wks! Get the petroleum giants to reduce gas prices, & then ask the public for a 10 cent a gallon gas tax increase. win-win. Somebody's making huge profits & it's not the local driving citizens.
Jeff Lykken February 21, 2013 at 04:51 AM
I am for the 10 cent gas tax because we need congestion relief. I405 from Renton to Bellevue I have an issue using gas tax money to add a toll lane. The money should be used for our 2 general purpose lanes that were promised in the 2002 master plan. I am in favor of the other projects such as 509 extention, and 167 extention.
David February 21, 2013 at 05:08 AM
The "super majority" in both WA Senate and WA House will be an interesting challenge, hard to surpass. So, the Legislature may "chicken out" and send the vote to "the people".
Lance Orloff February 21, 2013 at 03:58 PM
NWCN & Heather Graf of King 5 News and Associate Press are now reporting that Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), is proposing in her transportation revenue package announced yesterday, a $25 bike fee to pay for roads. What is next? Pedestrian fee? How about a "sitting on the sidewalk homeless - fee". Actually, I would support that last one. It would curb homeless people from using the sidewalks, like a bike fee would stop some people from using their bike and go back to clogging our roads which would require more money to pay for the additional wear and tear. Kind of a viscious cycle (intentional pun).
Local Guy February 21, 2013 at 05:54 PM
More, more, more, it's not enough! Why not? Because we need more, more, more! NOW!!!
Joseph March 02, 2013 at 01:12 AM
The politicians never have a problem spending other people's money. If you look around our state the government buildings (of all types including water treatment plants) look like palaces and are kept up. Raising the tax on gas is an economy killer if I ever heard of one. Meanwhile these same politicians won't let us drill for natural gas on our own land. I guess they expect you to fart and put it in your gas tank or otherwise pay highway robbery taxes.
Chris March 23, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Absolutely, we need more taxes! Repeat after me "We have a Spending Problem!" I flew with an ex Washington State School Superintendent the other day and he told me that when his district built a new school they didn't have funding for new computers, but he WAS required to spend $50,000 on an art project for the school. His choices were to either choose a pre made art piece, or have one commissioned for him. This was because a certain percentage of all public projects needs to be allocated to "The Arts" While I am not against artistic expression, we really need to prioritize our needs. There is only so much money to go around.
dexterjibs March 24, 2013 at 06:31 AM
Yea, we do need more taxes collected. Afterall, I only pay about 50% of my income to government of all levels. I think my fair share should be about 60% of my income should be taken by government in the form of taxes. There are a lot of single mothers with multiple tattoos that are on food stamps while living with their boyfriend. And there are alot of young, single healthy males that are on food stamps that aren't working cuz they are addicted to drugs. And there are billions of dollars in government programs that never shrink that need to be paid for.

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