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Wash. Senators Propose 11.7 Cent Gas Tax Hike To Fund Roads

Rachel La Corte
AP Photo
Republican Sen. Curtis King, second from right, speaks at a news conference about a new transportation package as Democratic Sens. Marko Liias and Steve Hobbs, to the left, and Republican Sen. Joe Fain, to the right, listen, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2105.


A bipartisan group of Washington state senators is backing an 11.7 cent gas tax increase over three years.

The 16-year proposal was rolled out late Thursday at the Capitol. The higher gas tax would help fund a multi-billion dollar roads and transit package.

The $15 billion proposal would fund six megaprojects in Washington as well as 58 regional projects. It would also pump nearly $1.5 billion into preservation and maintenance of existing roads and bridges. 

The funding package also includes several so-called transportation reforms pushed by Republicans. One would direct the sales tax paid on transportation projects back into transportation, instead of into the state general fund.

That’s a tough sell for Democrats like Sen. Marko Liias, who called the proposed package a “first step.”

"The reason I’m here today is because I think it’s time to launch a conversation with the people of Washington and show them the work that we’ve done and ask for their input on the elements of the proposal that’s before us," Liias said.

It’s been a decade since Washington lawmakers last approved a major transportation funding measure.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.