Inslee speaks at transportation revenue rally



OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee spoke at a rally at the Capitol in support of a transportation funding package, saying it’s “crunch time” to pay for road projects and maintain existing roads and bridges.

Inslee, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and state lawmakers spoke at the rally Monday. Lawmakers are in the midst of a 30-day special legislative session to deal with the state operating budget, but Inslee has said that a transportation revenue package must be dealt with as well.

In addition to controversial projects like the replacement of the bridge connecting Interstate 5 between Vancouver and Portland, Inslee said “we’ve got to fix and maintain what we have today.”

A proposal to raise the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon to help pay for maintenance of existing roads, as well as for a handful of pending big-ticket projects, has the support of House Democrats but faces skepticism from the Republican-dominated Senate majority.

The plan would also allow local governments to raise taxes and fees to help pay for mass transit. Inslee has said it should be on the table during the current special session.

Washington lawmakers returned to the Capitol last week for a special legislative session to address a projected deficit of more than $1.2 billion in the next two-year budget, plus a court-ordered increase in funding for the state’s education system.