Opinion

Time to talk about transportation taxes

The $10 billion transportation tax package rolled out Wednesday by House Democrats in Olympia certainly is an eye-opener. But it might just what the public needs to focus on how we move people and products in our state.

The plan would boost taxes on gasoline by 10 cents a gallon and add a car-tab tax of 0.7 percent on the value of a vehicle. The plan also would put a $25 sales tax fee on bicycle worth $500 or more.

All of this – plus how the money would be spent – will be one of the most debated issues of the legislative session. And, we suspect, around dinner tables and water coolers by everyone else.

Credit 41st Legislative District Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, with taking on this tough task. Her district includes half of Bellevue and we suspect she – like the rest of us – sees transportation woes on a daily basis.

We won’t try to give a blessing or a curse to the proposal yet. Like you, we want to poke into the bill’s details first. But as more people move here and use our roads, and as those continue to deteriorate, it should be obvious that doing nothing isn’t an option.

If you drive on I-405, you see that problem every day. The same is true if you’ve ever gotten bogged down in traffic trying to travel from our state to Oregon. Even Snoqualmie Pass is often overloaded.

The bill doesn’t include money to complete the new Evergreen Point bridge. Maybe it should, but tolls – if expanded to I-90 – could take care of that funding issue. Any while no one likes tolls, you can make a good argument that in this instance they are a targeted user tax.

Some already had cried that a 10-cent gasoline tax increase (2 cents a year for each of five years), would give our state the highest gas tax in the nation. That shouldn’t be the issue. Instead, we should concentrate on what we need to keep people moving on our roads and how do we pay for the needed costs.

Let’s start talking.

 

– Craig Groshart, Bellevue Reporter

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