AP: State transportation negotiations begin next week

The Associated Press reports this morning that legislative transportation leaders will begin negotiations next week. The House Transportation Committee heard the Senate proposal March 26 at a meeting filled with supporters of the Senate plan. According to AP, 

…House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said the Senate’s $15 billion transportation revenue package won’t get a vote in the chamber until there is a negotiated agreement.

Clibborn said that the Senate plan is scheduled for a vote out of her committee Tuesday night, and that she expects negotiations with the Republican-controlled Senate to begin the next day. She noted that with just a few weeks left in the legislative session, it didn’t make sense to have a protracted debate on the House floor on a plan that still needed to be negotiated and ultimately voted on again.

The Senate transportation leader expresses optimism.

Senate Transportation Committee chair Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, said he would have liked to have seen the House take an initial vote on the Senate plan, but said he looked forward to working with Clibborn to come to a deal this year, an outcome that has eluded the chambers for the past few sessions.

A comprehensive transportation package is critical this year. As we’ve noted before,

The state has fallen behind on the infrastructure investment that a prosperous future requires. There’s no mistaking the signs. Traffic congestion, particularly in Washington’s urban centers, has slowed the commute. Roads and bridges are deteriorating dangerously. It is past time to invest in the transportation system we have and improve key economic corridors.

How it gets passed is less important than that it gets passed this year. Let the negotiations begin. The consequences of inaction are clear.