Export Fuel Tax Culled From ‘Move Ahead Washington’ Bill

OLYMPIA, WA — The “Move Ahead Washington” transportation plan will move ahead, but it’ll do so without including a tax on fuel exports.

Initially, the $16 billion proposal — which includes funding for several major highway projects, more than two dozen transit projects and a roster of bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements — came packaged with a 6-cent tax on fuel exported from Washington refineries to other states. The tax would have raised $2 billion over the plan’s 16-year lifespan, but is being expelled from the proposal after receiving significant pushback from politicians— particularly those in other states who would have to pay the tax. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown published an op-ed in the Seattle Times urging Gov. Inslee to veto the tax if it came to his desk, calling it “an unreasonable burden on Oregonians” and threatening a legal challenge. Several Alaska lawmakers also threatened sanctions on Washington if the tax went through.

Though Inslee responded by promising to approve the tax if it reached his desk, it appears it won’t be headed that far. Representatives for Washington House Democrats announced on Saturday that they would be culling the tax from the Move Ahead Washington plan.

“People told us loud and clear that this was not going to work,” said Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). “From the beginning, this package has been about listening to people’s needs and making historic investments in Washington for years to come. We’ve come up with a reasonable, workable solution that takes the pressure off working people and contributes to a stronger partnership with our neighbors in other states.”

Democrats say the tax will be removed via an amendment. The funding that relied on the tax will be replaced by annual payments from the Public Works Assistance Account, so none of the proposed transportation projects will be impacted.

“The robust public input we received is vital to the legislative process,” Fey said. “After taking those concerns to heart, I’m confident we have a clear path forward to serve the people of Washington and meaningfully transform our transportation system. In the coming days, we will review the investments as well as other revenue options.”

The House is scheduled to debate the revenue portion of the package in the coming week.

Source: Bellevue Patch