SAN FRANCISCO — Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire asked lawmakers Tuesday to put a temporary sales-tax increase measure before voters and pass $3.6 billion of transportation spending.
In her state of the state address, the governor urged the Legislature during the 60-day session that started Monday to ask voters this spring to approve a temporary half-cent sales tax increase as well as a major transportation package.
The higher sales tax would help fund education, social services and public safety, programs that have been cut in recent budgets. Washington doesn’t have an income tax.
Gregoire said the package would cost $3.6 billion over the next decade in an effort to maintain the state’s transportation infrastructure. She said projects would be financed through a proposed a $1.50 fee on every barrel of oil produced in the state.
The governor said Washington is facing a $1.6 billion shortfall over the next 10 years to maintain highways and a $1.3 billion deficit in ferry system maintenance.
“This package will also get money to our cities and counties to fill potholes, repair roads, update bridges and keep buses running,” Gregoire said in the speech. “It will give them the option to raise additional money for maintenance and transit.”
Lawmakers will also tackle the roughly $1 billion hole still left in the current two-year budget during the two-month session.
In December, the governor signed a bill passed during an emergency legislative session enacting $480 million of cuts to the biennial budget.
The governor called the special session to address the projected $1.4 billion shortfall in the fiscal 2013-14 budget. She also wants to retain $600 million in reserves.