Political Beat

Sen. King offers new transportation plan without CRC money, isn’t hopeful it will go anywhere

State Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, has found himself in an odd position. As co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, he took a shot at creating a compromise transportation tax package that he ultimately won’t vote for.

Nonetheless, King shared his vision this week for a proposal that would raise taxes to pay for the state’s transportation needs. Unlike the House Democrats’ transportation tax package, King’s omits $450 million for the Columbia River Crossing project.

Instead, King would spend more on a project to extend Highway 167 in Pierce County, and he would put $300 million more toward road maintenance and preservation.

The transportation tax package would still include a roughly 10-cent increase in gas taxes. It also still includes money for many of the state’s other transportation projects, including the North Spokane corridor and widening Interstate 82 in Yakima.

King’s idea was floated by a number of stakeholders during a closed-door meeting. The News Tribune has a good summary of King’s transportation idea here, along with a document about the plan.

King’s idea has no chance of passing and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Senate Majority Coalition, spokesman Erich Ebel said Tuesday. King felt a responsibility, as a co-chair on the transportation committee, to work on some sort of alternative, Ebel said, adding that King spent three weeks piecing the plan together. At the same time, Ebel said King probably won’t vote in support of a transportation tax package this year.

After news of King’s alternative plan went public, state Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, issued a statement that praised King for working toward a solution that addresses the state’s transportation needs, but Clibborn, chair of the House Transportation Committee, also expressed concerns with the proposal.

“I am pleased to find so much common ground between our caucuses,” Clibborn said in a statement. “However, the absence of the Columbia River Crossing means that a major economic development component is missing. The CRC is a critical connection between Oregon and Washington, and will ensure that freight is able move quickly and efficiently along the I-5 corridor.”

Stevie Mathieu

Stevie Mathieu is a political writer at The Columbian. Contact her at 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics.

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