As negotiations over the state budget drag on in during this second overtime session, a statewide transportation package will continue to languish until a budget deal is reached. The transportation package is sitting there, ready to go. Legislative leaders largely agree on the size of the package, the projects it will build, and how it will be funded.
One large, open question remains: will the governor’s demand for a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) sink the transportation package? The Senate’s transportation package includes a provision to make it difficult for the governor to impose an LCFS by executive order.
Gov. Inslee has made clear that he wants an LCFS, and he previously told legislators they shouldn’t get their “knickers in a twist” over it. Inslee and his administration want it, but many disagree, including some environmentalists, that an LCFS is a rational policy right now. It’s also one of the least cost-effective ways to reduce carbon.
Transportation package is about the economy
This transportation package is important, and the time to pass it is now. In a legislative session with little to show in terms of bills that help create jobs, a transportation package would be a winner for Washington’s economy. Not only will it directly employ thousands, but the improvements it funds will shorten commute times, increase freight mobility, and boost our economy.
Such an important package shouldn’t be a “hostage” in legislative negotiations, and it shouldn’t be tossed aside so the governor can maintain executive flexibility on an LCFS. That’s too high of a price to pay for so little in return.
Not to over-dramatize, but punting on this package will mean losing out on jobs that could be providing for Washington families. It will mean a less-robust economy that produces less tax revenue. Delaying this opportunity will set us back.
In Olympia, no group or “side” gets everything it wants. Senate Republicans have already moved toward the Democrats’ position on transportation. This package should not be delayed another year or more over an LCFS. Our economy is more important than that.