Today, after nearly three years of negotiations, the Senate passed a $15 billion transportation revenue package with a broad bipartisan vote. The package devotes $8 billion to new construction and $1.4 billion to maintenance and preservation of existing roads and bridges across the state.
“I’m tired of the people of southwest Washington paying for everyone’s steak dinner, but not even allowed a piece of bread. The projects slated for our legislative district alone will produce an enormous return on investment for the folks in southwest Washington,” said Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who serves the state’s 18th Legislative District. “Between the enhanced economic development our area will enjoy and the family-wage construction jobs that will result from these projects and the others in surrounding districts, this is a great deal for Clark County.”
The transportation-revenue package totaled 11 bills. The first eight bills passed in the Senate addressed key reforms that had been must-have changes for Rivers and her Majority Coalition Caucus colleagues to move forward with the next leg of the package – a proposed 11.7 cent-per-gallon gas-tax increase, phased in over three years.
“People can always find a reason to say ‘no’ to a proposal. It’s harder to say ‘yes,’ but if that’s the best way to reverse the decline in our state’s transportation infrastructure, then that’s what you do as a leader. I wish there were a ‘no tax of any kind’ option, but taxes are how we have always paid for roads. There has to be a revenue source, and while this package isn’t perfect, it’s a big improvement over 10 years ago,” said Rivers.
The Legislature has not approved a transportation-revenue package since 2005, and that one allocated no money to maintenance and preservation.
“Those who controlled the Legislature and the governor’s mansion a decade ago made the decision to neglect our existing infrastructure. As a member of the Majority Coalition Caucus, I am choosing the difficult decision of leading and cleaning up their mess. Our state’s roads will only continue to crumble and become further dilapidated. Pretending that isn’t the case and saying no to economic growth for our area would have been irresponsible,” said Rivers.