Legislature passes transportation package, along with big gas tax hike

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Legislature has passed a $16.1 billion transportation revenue package that includes an incremental 11.9-cent gas tax increase over the next two years.

After a multihour overnight delay because of a dispute between Senate Democrats and Republicans over unrelated bills, senators returned to the floor Wednesday morning to pass the revenue bill on a 37-8 vote and send it to the governor.

The House passed the measure earlier in the morning on a bipartisan 54-44 vote. The Senate also passed a bonding bill tied to the package, as well as a spending bill that designates the money to specific projects.

The transportation plan would increase the gas tax in two stages: a 7-cent increase on Aug. 1 and a 4.9-cent increase on July 1, 2016. The plan spends $8.8 billion on state and local road projects and $1.4 billion on maintenance and preservation.

Another $1 billion would be spent on non-highway projects, like bike paths, pedestrian walkways and transit. It also would allow Sound Transit to ask voters to pay for potential expansions of its rail line.