Lawmakers said Wednesday a transportation package looks unlikely to happen before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Thursday.
Republican leaders discussed the issue at a press conference Wednesday. Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, the co-chair of the Senate transportation committee, said the Majority Coalition Caucus made compromises on spending more than they initially proposed for buses and other modes of transportation, and had lowered their proposed amount of transportation sales and use tax to be dedicated to road projects.
“We made major concessions, we made major moves,” King said Wednesday. “It was obvious from the response we got that they weren’t interested in truly negotiating.”
A spokesman for Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, the Democratic co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, disputed King’s characterization that Democrats were not interested in negotiation. Her office released three letters she sent to King that asked for hearings on transportation revenue bills in exchange for hearings on King’s reform bills.
Gov. Jay Inlsee, who has said that road maintenance throughout the state will take a large hit without a transportation tax package this year, called the stalled discussions a “disappointment.”
He said he doesn’t want to see another disaster like the Skagit River bridge collapse. “I have seen a bridge at the bottom of a river, and I have told them that I don’t want any of them to see that,” he told reporters.
A transportation agreement before the end of session is unlikely, Inslee and King both said.
“We will continue to work on this, but it won’t happen this week,” Inslee said.