Leaders of major business organizations: We’re all in it together on transportation legislation

More evidence that the Legislature’s passage of comprehensive transportation legislation marked a major step forward: today’s op-ed in the Seattle Times by Washington Roundtable president Steve Mullin, Association of Washington Business president Kris Johnson and Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce president Maud Daudon.

With $16 billion in investments — including $1.3 billion for preservation and maintenance, $8.8 billion for project construction and $1 billion for the state’s multimodal fund — this package is a huge step toward a safer, more efficient and integrated transportation system for Washington.

…As representatives of the state’s business community, along with local chambers of commerce around the state, for years we’ve stood beside leaders from labor, environmental and transit organizations, as well as local governments, advocating for a comprehensive statewide investment such as this. We did it because a safe, efficient, multimodal transportation system is vital to keeping Washington a vibrant center of commerce and protecting our quality of life.

Here’s the conclusion:

Gov. Inslee and state legislators deserve congratulations all around for their leadership. The bipartisan collaboration we saw throughout four legislative sessions illustrates the adage: Transportation is not a partisan issue. When it comes to our public infrastructure, we’re all in it together.

Although Congress continues to dither, many states are, as Washington did, acting to improve mobility and safety. Stateline reports

Tired of waiting for federal transportation dollars, eight states…either hiked gas taxes or scaled back a planned cut to bring in more money. They are: Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. At least four states [Note: Including Washington] are putting the final touches on increases or are still considering them. And in California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has called for a special session to determine how to finance $59 billion in freeway and road repairs.

The reasons are clear.

A coalition of the business community, the transportation industry and ordinary taxpayers just trying to get to work every day drove the tax increases in the states.  A widely circulated report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, which listed tens of thousands of “structurally deficient” bridges in each state, helped fuel the efforts.

…In several states, pointing out that the gas tax hadn’t been raised in many years proved to be a powerful argument.

The business leaders are right: Congratulations to the governor and Legislature for acting this year.