Washington House Democrats propose massive gas and carbon tax

SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington State House Democrats have unveiled a massive $25.8 billion transportation package that would cover the next 16 years. To pay for it Washington residents will have to pay more at the pump and other places.

Democrats say their priorities for the proposes package include maintenance and preservation, investments in front line communities and supporting economic recovery.

“Our proposal is much more substantial than any in state history because the needs and challenges are so much bigger,” said Rep. Jake Fey from District 27.

Most of the $26 billion revenue would come from a gas tax. During the next two years, you’d pay 18 cents more a gallon. Also an additional 3 cent increase on diesel fuel. License plate fees would also increase by 50% as well as a 1% increase on rental car tax. The money collected would go towards two major initiatives in the state, highway related projects and carbon reduction initiatives.

“This package is unique in that is raises revenue without new bonding which doesn’t require a super majority,” said Rep. Vandana Slatter from District 48.

This proposal comes amid the coronavirus pandemic which has put a heavy strain on the economy. Democrats say they have to support more vulnerable communities that rely on public transit and other systems.

“We are facing because of COVID revenue reductions. So in some respects if we don’t do this we’re going to be in the positions of cutting projects,” said Fey.

Spokane Representative Marcus Riccelli also says this plan will help tackle the state deficit.

“If we would have indexed our gas tax years ago, we would not be in the situation we are with deteriorating roads throughout Washington State,” said Riccelli.

We reached out to several local Republicans representatives for comment on the proposed package, but have not heard back.

The House and Senate have some different priorities when it comes to transportation funding. The Senate’s proposed budget includes $205 million for the North South Freeway, which is still under construction. It also includes $7.8 for improvements in the Liberty Lake area.