A current transportation revenue-and-reform proposal from the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus falls short on two counts: It will not raise enough money to extend State Route 167 in Pierce County all the way to the Port of Tacoma, and it won't provide enough cash to improve State Route 509 in Pierce and King counties.
It is (theoretically) possible for legislators to pass a gas tax hike that would provide the extra money in its 2014 session. But a gas tax hike for those projects is more likely to occur in the 2015 or 2016 session under a methodical approach called for by the Majority Coalition Caucus. That new-tax-averse alliance of 23 Republican and two Democratic state senators controls the Washington Senate and can block any Democratic attempt to raise the gas tax in 2014. The same coalition already killed a proposed 10.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike for transportation improvements in June, chiefly because coalition members opposed tax increases as a general philosophy.
The state needs an extra $3.4 billion, give or take, over the next 12 years if it hopes to pay for all the improvements called for in the House's 2103 transportation revenue package. That $3.4 billion estimate does not include the controversial proposed replacement of the Interstate 5 bridge between Vancouver and Portland, another majority coalition victim. The coalition’s Vancouver-area Republicans just couldn’t abide the light rail component of that I-5 bridge proposal.
A few weeks ago, the coalition unveiled a counter-proposal to a House Democratic plan that it refused to consider in June. The counter offer involves raising an extra $800 million in transportation revenue over 10 years by shifting money from other programs. That $800 million figure is far less than what Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative Democrats say is needed.