The Implications of Washington's Massive New Transportation Bill

Date: August 05, 2015

State legislature adjourned a record-long session after approving measures that will impact small business owners.

A major transportation package and gas tax increases were among several bills that eventually worked through Washington’s longest single-year legislative session ever.

The $16.1 billion transportation package, the first such package passed in a decade, will include $8.8 billion worth of projects that will go toward new or rebuilt highways. An additional $1.3 billion will go toward non-highway projects like bike paths, pedestrian walkways and transit projects.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who signed the bill into law on July 15, said it’s the largest single transportation investment in state history.

An 11.9-cent gasoline tax increase was also passed to fund the transportation plan. The gas tax will begin to go into effect Aug. 1 with a 7-cent increase. On July 1, 2016 the tax will increase an additional 4.9 cents. NFIB was against the increase and was the only statewide business association to oppose the measure.

Likewise, some lawmakers such as Rep. Norma Smith believe voters should’ve gotten a say in the tax increase.

“Washingtonians have said time and time again they do not want increased taxes unless by a two-thirds majority vote by the Legislature or a vote of the people,” Smith said in a statement. “Passing one of the largest tax increases in state history in the dead of night while most folks were sleeping is simply wrong.”

While voters didn’t get a say this time, part of the transportation package does authorize Sound Transit to seek voter approval next year for $15 billion to expand light rail transit.

Related Content: Small Business News | Economy | Washington

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