Washington Senate Passes 11.7 Cent Gas Tax Hike; Heads To House

Mar 2, 2015

The Republican-led Washington Senate Monday approved a nearly 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase phased in over three years.

Washington’s current gas tax is 37.5 cents per gallon. The gas tax increase passed on a mostly Republican vote of 27 to 22. The vote paves the way for a 16-year, $15 billion transportation package.

“This will be the first time in 23 sessions that I have supported a package like this,” Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said.

He touted several Republican reforms included in the gas tax package. But that’s what cost it several Democratic votes like Senator Pramila Jayapal’s. She denounced a provision that critics have called a “poison pill.”

“Tying the hands of any governor to take action on carbon emissions reduction,” she said.

A few Democrats like Senator Mark Mullet joined in the “yes” vote. He said simply, “Traffic sucks.”

The bill now goes to the House. It’s been a decade since the last transportation package moved out of the Washington legislature.

The Idaho Legislature is also considering whether to raise its gas tax to pay for more highway and bridge maintenance. Republican members of the Idaho House have floated a plan to hike the state gas tax by 8 cents per gallon and diesel by 12 cents. Idaho’s gas tax hasn’t budged since 1996, when it was set at 25 cents per gallon.