House passes transportation budget without fuel export tax

Yesterday, the House passed the $16 billion, 16-year Move Ahead Washington transportation tax introduced last month. The House-passed legislation differs in one key respect from the initial proposal: The House dropped the  fuel export tax from the package.

House Democrats celebrated the bill’s passage on their website.

The 16-year, $16 billion package comes after years of community engagement. House Democrats hosted over 90 listening sessions across the state to hear what Washington residents needed from the next two decades of transportation development. Legislators used this input to develop key priorities in Move Ahead WA, including:

  • Preserving and maintaining existing infrastructure.
  • Finishing critical projects already under construction.
  • Expanding reliable, accessible, and affordable transportation options.
  • Building the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River.
  • Replacing aging ferry vessels.

Of the fuel export tax:

Critically, the House scrapped the 6-cent fuel export tax included in the original proposal.

“We heard from our Pacific Northwest neighbors and from the people of Washington that this part of the package wasn’t going to work,” commented Fey. “It came through loud and clear that the best path to move ahead together included a reasonable, workable alternative that takes the pressure off workers and other states. I’m grateful for all the feedback we received that has shaped this decision and helped strengthen Move Ahead WA.”

The Center Square reports

Senate Bill 5974 is the revenue portion of the package, and Senate Bill 5975 is the spending plan for the revenue received from SB 5974. Both bills passed late Tuesday night on a near party-line vote. SB 5974 passed 54-43, and SB 5975 passed 55-40.

The revenue replacement for the fuel tax…

the state’s Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) would be tapped for a transfer of $100 million per year for the life of the package. In other words, the PWAA would replace the planned tax on fuel exported from Washington’s five refineries to neighboring states that was expected to generate some $2 billion.

Back to the Senate and a negotiated reconciliation.