$15 billion transportation budget on table as new session begins

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- House and Senate transportation leaders say they are working on final details tied to a $15 billion transportation revenue package that includes an incremental increase in the gas tax.

Gov. Jay Inslee and the transportation committee leaders in both chambers released statements Sunday saying that the governor has agreed to sign any ultimate deal between the two, even if it includes language that Inslee opposed related to a low carbon fuel standard, a major point of contention in the negotiations.

“The state needs a transportation package and lawmakers have negotiated a bipartisan proposal that is nearly ready to be voted on," said Inslee. “The current bill has a poison pill that pits clean air against transit. I oppose that and have worked hard to find a better alternative. But legislators tell me it is essential to passing the $15 billion multi-modal transportation package and authorizing an additional $15 billion for Sound Transit light rail expansion.

The Legislature has struggled to pass a new plan for the past few years, but House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn said this year is the closest they've come to agreement.

The Senate passed the plan earlier this year and has been in negotiations with the House for months.

The announcement comes as lawmakers return to the Capitol to start a third special session to finish work on a state operating budget.