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Dems Raid Public Works to Fund Transportation Budget, GOP Opposes It

A few days ago we reported how Democrats (and Senators) at WA State House were proposing a highly controversial $0.6 per gallon tax on refined fuel leaving WA for AK, OR, Idaho and other areas of the Pacific Northwest. It would be used to help pay for their state transportation budget proposals.

Other states, including Alaska, have promised economic retaliation

The proposal, which our PNW neighbors said violated the Federal Commerce Clause, sparked a firestorm and was dropped.

However, to fund their transportation budget, House Democrats changed the plan to take $100 million from the state Public Works Assistance Fund. The fund is state money used to help cities and counties with various projects, ranging from repair and water and sewer projects to roads, bridges, and more.

So the Legislature takes money that would help, say, Kennewick, or Benton City, or Walla Walla fix a badly needed sewer system or road, and put it toward state purposes.

Not all transport money goes to much needed road repairs

Tens of millions of dollars, if not more, in this bloated transportation package go to what many GOP leaders call “sinkhole” projects such as the light rail in King County and other transportation entities disappointing and so far “failed”.

House GOP Representative Mike Steele (12th District-Chelan) is the highest-ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee, and he had this to say about the Public Works Fund plunder:

“We have a pipeline, Mr. President, of more than a billion dollars of projects for the next two to four years. And yet, we are here tonight on the floor of this House, contemplating the removal of one of the most vital tools that local jurisdictions, counties and cities need to fund very concrete projects.”

According to House GOP broadcast coordinator John Sattgast, Democrats approved the amendment taking money from the Public Works Fund, approved the transportation package and sent it to the Senate, all without any Republican support.

The Senate will now take up the matter.

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