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State Rep. Kochmar: Why I voted no on transportation bill
As you, the residents of the 30th District may have heard, I am being attacked for voting "no" on a transportation bill. This bill was an "alternative" to the transportation package I supported.
Earlier in the session, I committed to a "yes" vote on a transportation package that would have provided for all the needed projects in our area. That package was developed with input from business, labor, ports, local governments, elected officials and many other stakeholders. It would have phased-in gas taxes over a five-year period, sparing citizens the burden of a large new expense from an immediate gas tax increase.
I was excited that much-needed improvements, and the jobs that would flow from those improvements, would be coming to our community. However, the original transportation funding plan was abandoned due to political maneuvering.
In the alternative plan which I opposed, new projects were added at the last minute that required the gas tax increase to be fast-tracked. Projects in the original proposal didn't need immediate financing, but these additional projects did need quick funds. With the passage of the alternative proposal the average, middle-class resident of our district would have been paying possibly hundreds more in fuel starting next month. Under the alternative plan, the final cost to the average citizen could be more than $400 by 2014.
I answer to the people of the 30th Legislative District and Washington state, and will vote in the best interest of the people regardless of outside pressures. On the issue of taxes, the people have spoken. In March of this year, an Elway poll showed 72 percent of residents are opposed to a gas tax increase. A poll done in May shows that 61 percent of Washingtonians are opposed to higher taxes even if they are used for services or education.
However, I was asked to blindly support a gas tax increase regardless of the costs and benefits of proceeding. I drew a line in the sand that I would not cross, and the price I must pay is the criticism of those who wanted any bill regardless of the impact on you.
When casting my “no” vote for the transportation tax package, I realized some would disagree with me. However, I am committed to bear any burden and pay any cost to protect you from politics as usual in Olympia.
We need to improve our infrastructure to remain a viable economy. We need to rehabilitate the original transportation package, which set clear priorities and funded necessary projects like the Port of Tacoma SR 167 extension, the completion of the Triangle Project and State Route 509. I am ready and willing to work to those ends, but I am not willing to "sell out" the taxpayers in the process.
We can succeed and accomplish great things if we work together, and reject placing politics before people. And finally, we must put an end to gridlock and multiple, costly special sessions, which do not serve the people.
I look forward to being part of the solution as we move our state forward and realize our great potential.
State Rep. Linda Kochmar (R), 30th Legislative District