Inslee Looks to Call Special Session for Transportation Package Vote

Sep 3, 2013

Gov. Jay Inslee is ratcheting up the pressure on legislators to pass a transportation package. He said he’ll call the state Legislature into special session to approve money for transportation investments and repairs, but only if he’s sure he has the votes to pass it.

At a Seattle news conference, Inslee said he thinks the Republican-controlled Senate is coming around, under pressure since punting on the last attempt to fund transportation.

“They have caught both barrels from the business community saying, 'Why haven’t you acted?' And as a result, we’re seeing an increased appetite for action, and I think that’s a healthy thing,” Inslee said.

Inslee said the state may pursue a broad transportation package without funding for a new Columbia River bridge.

He warned that failing to get something done would lead to drastic cutbacks for King County Metro and further deterioration of roads and bridges. He slammed the state Senate for failing to act during the last session. 

Senate Majority Caucus Coalition leader Rodney Tom bristled at Inslee’s “verbal shots,” arguing that Inslee gave lawmakers merely a wish list, not a bond bill that would raise the funds.

Tom said his Republican-dominated coalition will take its cues from the voters. In two weeks, the coalition is launching a statewide barnstorming and listening tour focused on transportation. Tom said any deal will have to include reforms and cost-cuts if it’s to have credibility with voters.

Inslee had pushed earlier this year for broad package that would include funding for a new Columbia River Crossing. Democrats in the House had approved a plan that would increase the gas tax by 10 ½ cents. A Republican-dominated coalition in the state Senate rejected efforts to bring the package up for a vote, saying they want to see policy reforms first and expressing concern about the Columbia River proposal.