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State House issues 'no-frills' transportation budget

State House issues 'no-frills' transportation budget
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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The Washington state House released a scaled-back transportation budget proposal Thursday, with Transportation Committee chairwoman saying she plans to unveil a revised revenue package to pay for new projects next week.

Democratic Rep. Judy Clibborn, of Mercer Island, the committee chairwoman, called the budget proposal "no frills," and said she plans to augment it by pushing for a revenue-raising proposal of between $8 billion and $9 billion - down from the $9.8 billion package she proposed in February.

Clibborn said she is optimistic about the forthcoming revenue package's prospects.

"The governor's on board. The speaker said he'd run it," said Clibborn, referring to House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle. "The coalitions around the project are raring to go."

The plan is likely to find resistance in the Republican-controlled state Senate, where key lawmakers have said that voters must be supportive of any tax increases considered by the Legislature.

Clibborn said that a 10-cent increase to the gas tax will be included in the plan, as will fees based on vehicle weight. Also in the plan will be options for local governments to raise transportation taxes and fees to fund local transit agencies and road work, she said.

Absent from the proposal will be an annual vehicle registration tax pegged to the car's value, known as a motor vehicle excise tax, as well as a hike in the hazardous substance tax that in her earlier revenue plan was penciled to bring in $900 million, Clibborn said.

The budget plan released Thursday would allocate $8.4 billion over the next two years - slightly less than the transportation budget proposal unveiled Wednesday in the state Senate.

The proposal includes little in the way of funding for new projects. It proposes funding for continued work on the Alaskan Way Viaduct project, the state Route 520 bridge replacement and creating high-occupancy lanes on Interstate 5 in Tacoma.

Clibborn called the budget proposal a bipartisan effort, a sentiment echoed by Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, ranking minority member of the House Transportation Committee.

"We will continue to work to improve this budget, but a no new taxes budget is the right approach," said Orcutt in a written statement.

Clibborn said the House Transportation Committee will vote on the budget plan Monday, after which her focus will turn to the revenue package.
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