Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In late June, the state House of Representatives passed legislation that would have raised the state gas tax by 10.5 cents per gallon, increased weight fees for commercial and passenger vehicles, increased other fees, and used bond proceeds to generate just under $10 billion in revenue to pay for transportation projects. The legislation passed on a narrow vote, but later died in the state Senate as the second special session came to a close.
Since then, the transportation debate has ramped up. The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus just finished transportation feedback forums across the state to gather input from citizens and stakeholder groups. This open, inclusive approach stands in stark contrast to the plan put forward by the House Democrats and governor in June.
A study is 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 study results are due before the 2014 legislative session that begins in January.
The governor also 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 people and small businesses cannot afford to pay more at the pump. An increase in the state gas tax would be especially difficult for those 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 pontoons, to an off ramp being built in the wrong place, to issues in the state ferry system, too many gas tax dollars have been wasted. We need reforms to prevent past problems from happening in the future and to help ensure that your 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,