WA Senate passes transportation budget

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state Senate has passed a transportation budget with $48 million in new spending over the next year for freeway projects, transit, the state patrol and the ferry system.

The measure passed on a 44-5 vote Tuesday. The Senate plan has $9 million less in new spending than the transportation budget passed by the House on Monday. A joint-chamber conference will likely be needed to hammer out a compromise.

The biggest difference is over money for cash-strapped local and regional transit agencies. The Senate would make available $3.5 million -- $5.5 million less than the House. The Senate's spending proposal is lower than the House's because the Senate is pushing a more modest set of driving-related fee increases.

Lawmakers acknowledge a much larger infusion of funds is necessary to meet the state's pressing transportation needs.