Highlights from last week:

Transportation Package 

The top transportation news from last week was Senator Hobbs’ unveiling of his re-worked Forward Washington proposal, which would invest ~$15 billion over 16 years. 

Hobbs’ package is funded by a variety of revenue sources, many of which are increases to existing transportation fees or taxes, including a 6-cent increase of the fuel tax that funds a large portion of the package. He also included an air quality surcharge (a progressive fee based on the fuel efficiency on the sale of new vehicles) a statewide Transportation Benefit Assessment,  and a TNC fee. The largest portion of revenue in the package could be generated by one of two carbon pricing mechanisms, with one option a straight fee per metric ton of carbon, and the other a portion of revenue from a Cap and Invest program.

Lastly, it is critical to note that this package assumes a certain level of bonding, unlike the House proposal, and therefore would require 60% of the vote to pass. 

On the revenue side, the proposal includes a robust investment in multimodal transportation that is unfortunately outweighed heavily by investments in new highway capacity. The Washington State Transit Association put together a helpful chart documenting the differences in transit funding between the new Hobbs proposal; another Senate proposal from Rebecca Saldaña (which was not released via hearing or press conference); and the House proposal:

WSTA transportation package proposal data

For our full analysis, please see the Clean & Just analysis of both Senator Hobbs’ and Senator Saldana’s transportation proposals here. Our prior analysis of the House proposal can be found here

Join our growing coalition for a Clean & Just Transportation system by signing on here! 

Unpaused Projects 

On January 18th, Governor Inslee directed the Department of Transportation to delay certain projects scheduled to be advertised for bids until he and the Legislature reached an agreement on the 2021-23 transportation budget. However, due to pressure from legislators, he reversed course, and WSDOT received direction from the Office of Financial Management on January 28th to lift the pause on those projects.

Coming up

HB1301, which would give Sound Transit the authority to create their own internal fare enforcement system, separate from the court system, is scheduled for a hearing before the House Transportation Committee at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8. Sound Transit is currently conducting a fare ambassador pilot program, and will consider divorcing its fare enforcement program entirely from the courts later this year. If passed, this bill will pave the way for reform.

On Tuesday, HB1304, which would expand the current monorail taxing authority, will be heard before the House Committee on Local Government at 10:00 a.m. Seattle Subway has championed this bill as a way to continue planning for regional light rail.

In addition, the Healthy Environments for All (HEAL) act SB5141 will be up for hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

For a snapshot of all the legislation we’re tracking, check out our 2021 Bill Tracker.

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