Washington House panel OKs road funding plan

$8.5 billion package includes money for CRC

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OLYMPIA (AP) — A transportation revenue package funding several large highway projects and paid for in part by a 10-cent increase in the state's gas tax advanced from a House committee Monday.

Among the projects the $8.5 billion package would fund are those linking a pair of state routes to Interstate 5, the North Spokane Corridor and a replacement for the I-5 Bridge over the Columbia River.

The revenue package, intended to be rolled out over 12 years, was passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. Proponents say the package is necessary to ensure that Washington state's infrastructure remains up to the task of getting people and goods to their destinations safely and without undue delay.

Opponents acknowledge that the state has real transportation needs, but they're uncomfortable with tax hikes — particularly ones not first approved by voters — to help fund them.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, said the package would place too much burden on people already struggling to afford gas for their cars.

The package heads next to the House Rules Committee. If it makes it out of the Democratic-controlled House, it faces an uphill battle in the more tax-averse Senate, which is controlled by a Republican-dominated majority.