A trio of transportation bills passed tonight by the Senate, including the chamber’s supplemental transportation budget and a new package of transportation projects, received “no” votes from 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler. He is particularly critical of the new package, saying it fails to benefit the entire state while relying on tax and fee increases that will impact people throughout Washington.
“The new transportation projects approved by the Senate would do plenty for certain parts of our state, especially the Puget Sound region and Vancouver, but they fall far short of addressing the highway needs in our district and other parts of the state,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “The talk about ‘One Washington’ and a statewide approach to transportation is a myth. The only thing that is statewide about this budget are the tax and fee hikes. Everyone from Aberdeen to Clarkston will have to pay more, but only a few chosen communities will benefit.”
Schoesler noted that the new Senate transportation commitments (Senate Bill 5975) would let people age 18 and under use ferries, transit and Amtrak for free.
“So if you’re a teenager living in the Puget Sound region, you can ride a ferry or take a bus or light rail for free, but teens in the 9th District have very little access to transit, and there are no Amtrak stations in the district and no ferry docks anywhere close to us,” said Schoesler. “The Senate majority is focusing on transportation modes that help people in their districts but not the highway needs in rural Washington.”
In addition, the Senate tonight approved shifting $130 million from the state general fund to help pay down the debt on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Senate Bill 5488).
“The Narrows Bridge funding bill might be great news for anyone who uses that bridge, but it takes tax money that was produced by people here in our district and other parts of Washington, but only a small portion of our state will benefit from it. It’s unfair to ignore the transportation needs of the rest of Washington while a small part of the state would benefit in such an extraordinary way.”
The 2022 legislative session is scheduled to end March 10.