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Washington state introduces bill to increase state gas tax

Capitol dome in Olympia in January 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm

Lawmakers in Washington state have introduced legislation that could increase the state gas tax, making it the highest in the country at 67.4 cents a gallon.

The proposal calls for a 18-cent increase a gallon in the state's gas tax, KING-TV reported Thursday. The bill would increase the price by 10 cents a gallon (3.8 liters) this year and another 8 cents a gallon (3.8 liters) in 2022.

Washington state drivers currently pay 49.4 cents a gallon in state taxes and an additional 18.4% in federal taxes, officials said. California drivers currently pay 64.47 cents a gallon (3.8 liters) in state taxes.

“Our proposal is much more substantial than any in state history because the needs and challenges are so much higher,” said Democratic state Rep. Jake Fey, who is sponsoring the bill.

Fey said the funding would pay for transportation projects, help convert diesel ferries to electric and upgrade salmon culverts under a federal order to redesign hundreds of fish culverts by 2030.

Some lawmakers have argued the state should instead prioritize relief aid for residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Republican state Rep. Andy Barkis suggested delaying the culvert projects.

“We’ve got 9 more years left,” Barkis said. “Do you think maybe this would be a year we could reprioritize that money and do some other things?”

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has not yet determined if he will support the bill, KING-TV reported.

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