Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have bridges with leaky pontoons, a faulty ferry, money wasted because the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) built a freeway ramp in the wrong place and had to tear it out. And just this week, it was revealed in the Kitsap Sun that mistakes made by ferry workers caused an electric drive motor to heat up and melt, knocking out the ferry Walla Walla from service for five months and costing $3 million to repair. Each of these cases, which have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, were preventable. I believe it represents a culture of failure within the administration of WSDOT. Maybe that's part of the reason a recent Elway poll showed that 72 percent of Washingtonians are opposed to the House Democrats' proposal to increase the state's gas tax by 10 cents a gallon.
Before the Legislature takes another dime of additional taxes from your pockets, we need to fix the problems that are causing the enormous cost of waste in our state's transportation system. My House Republican colleagues and I say, “Fix it before you fund it!”
It's not just a slogan. It's a call to action!
Last Thursday, House Republicans released an action plan of economic and transportation reforms that would: create jobs, make gas tax dollars go further, ensure accountability and protect taxpayers. Here's a look at our plan:
- House Bill 1236 would require state agencies to make a permit decision in 90 days or the permit is granted.
- House Bill 1619 would suspend Growth Management Act requirements in counties with persistent unemployment, where regulations often stand in the way of economic development.
Making gas tax dollars go further
- House Bill 1985 would exempt future state transportation projects from state and local sales and use tax.
- House Bill 1986 would require WSDOT to report to the Legislature on engineering errors and mistakes that exceed $500,000.
- House Bill 1984 would limit WSDOT's tort liability based on the amount of the department's actual fault, instead of allowing plaintiffs to recover the entire judgment from the deeper pockets of the state.
- House Bill 1989 would limit bond terms for transportation projects to 15 years.
Raising taxes and throwing more money at the state's transportation system without implementing reforms would only enable more of the same problems of waste and failure. We need to make sure that every dollar taken from the taxpayer is used wisely and efficiently BEFORE asking for more of your hard-earned money.
In future articles, I will be discussing each of these reforms in detail. For now, if you would like more information, please visit our Web site at houserepublicans.wa.gov and click on “Fix it before you fund it!”
In your service,