Yesterday House transportation leaders released their 2011-2013 biennial budget. From their press release.
The $8.9 billion transportation budget proposal for the 2011-13 biennium takes a multi-modal approach to planning for future needs with investments in highways, ferries, commercial and passenger rail, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements. More than 43,000 jobs are expected to be created or sustained through the budget’s $4.9 billion capital construction plan.
Taking into account the diversity of transportation preferences across the state, the budget makes significant multi-modal investments, including $402 million for passenger rail, $237 for ferry terminals and vessels, $88 million for urban and rural transit, $44 million for freight rail and $11 million for the Safe Routes to School and bicycle-pedestrian safety programs.
The Times is reporting, as many have been expecting, that the state legislature is looking to next year for new transportation revenue.
State legislators will neither cut nor add big highway projects this year, but voters can expect a mix of road and transit taxes on the ballot in 2012, the House Transportation Committee chairwoman said Monday.
Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said she wants lawmakers to suggest the “bare bones” of the 2012 package by the end of this spring session.
At least four factors explain the push for new taxes:
• In the past decade, the number of miles driven has flattened, while cars are more fuel-efficient, so gas-tax income is forecast to gradually decline.
• Lawmakers overpromised what the 2003-05 gas and car-tab revenues could deliver, so more cash is needed for postponed projects such as the redecking of Interstate 5 in Seattle.
• Demand still exists for new routes, such as extensions of Highway 167 serving the Port of Tacoma, that stalled when voters rejected the 2007 Roads and Transit measure.
• Finally, transit boosters are frustrated by sales-tax losses that are forcing bus agencies to freeze or cut service — and some would like to hasten new rail and bus-rapid transit.
The Senate should be releasing it’s budget later today.