Rep. Orcutt: Transportation budget, though flawed, funds important transportation functions

The state House of Representatives today approved a two-year transportation budget that relies on already-existing revenues. Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, said although he has reservations, he voted “yes” because it funds important transportation functions.

HB 1299 keeps the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Department of Licensing and Washington State Patrol operating, and continues highway and bridge preservation and maintenance. It is different from the proposed transportation tax package, which would raise the gas tax and vehicle registration fees to pay for new Rep. Ed Orcutt on the House floorprojects.

“This budget includes money to make bridges safer, and to remove barriers that block fish passage,” said Orcutt, who serves as the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee. “These are two areas where Southwest Washington needs assistance now.”

During floor debate, Orcutt voiced disappointment that the final budget has less money for bridges and fish-passage barrier removal than an earlier proposal, and that it was negotiated without adequate input from legislators.

But with $39 million for repairing and replacing structurally deficient bridges and another $60 million for removing fish-passage barriers, Orcutt said the measure’s benefits outweigh the negatives.

“For years, forest landowners have been removing fish-passage barriers only to look at all the downstream barriers preventing fish from even getting to their property,” he said. “We need to step up WSDOT’s removal of barriers downstream so landowners’ money won’t have been spent in vain. And it goes without saying we’ve got to invest in bridge improvements.”

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Washington State House Republican Communications