Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On June 24, I shared with you a plan in the Legislature to raise the state gas tax by 10.5 cents per gallon, increase weight fees for commercial and passenger vehicles, increase other fees, and use bond proceeds to generate around $10 billion in revenue to pay for transportation projects around the state. The legislation passed the state House of Representatives on a narrow vote, but later died in the state Senate as the second special session came to an end.
Since then, the transportation debate has ramped up. The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus just concluded several transportation feedback forums across the state to gather input from citizens. This open, inclusive approach stands in stark contrast to the plan put forward in the state House of Representatives and by the governor in June. A study is also being conducted by the Joint Transportation Committee to determine transportation cost drivers and potential efficiencies. This effort is important because we know that transportation projects in our state cost significantly more than similar projects in other states. The report is due before the 2014 legislative session that begins in January. Finally, the governor continues to push for a special session in November to pass a transportation revenue package.
I voted against the transportation revenue package in June for two main reasons. First, many individuals, families and small businesses cannot afford to pay more at the pump. An increase in the state gas tax would be especially punitive to people who have to travel long distances to work or are struggling to get by. Secondly, our state needs more accountability in its transportation system before the Legislature considers reaching deeper into people's pockets. From the problems with the 520 bridge replacement pontoons, to an off ramp being built in the wrong place, to problems in the state ferry system, too many gas tax dollars have been wasted. We need reforms to prevent past problems from occurring in the future and to help ensure gas tax dollars are maximized. This is where I believe the transportation debate needs to start.
I've provided you with an update on the transportation revenue package debate and shared my views. Now, I want to hear from you. Please consider taking this short transportation survey. I appreciate your consideration and time.
In your service,