This Washington

Transportation Fee Bill Dies in Senate

By Erica C. Barnett May 27, 2011

Although transit advocates were optimistic this week that the state senate would pass legislation raising fees for drivers' license renewals, license plates, and other license-related fees, the bill failed to pass the senate's deadline to get legislation through Wednesday night.

In its final form, the bill, which started out as a $161 million proposal that included just $2 million for transit, would have provided $85 million for road maintenance, ferries, and direct aid to transit ($13 million) and bike and pedestrian improvements ($3 million). That version passed the state house early Wednesday.

Senators reportedly felt they didn't have enough time to consider the latest version of the bill, which they saw for the first time Wednesday afternoon.

"We're disappointed that it didn't go through, but it's still encouraging that the house passed out a revenue package that has direct funding for transit," Transportation Choices Coalition campaign director Viet Shelton says.

The legislature will take up a multi-billion-dollar transportation package next year, and advocates for both roads and nonmotorized transportation are gearing up to push for funding for their priorities. In the meantime, transit agencies across the state are facing massive budget shortfalls, and planning service cuts of as much as 35 percent.
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