Washington Governor Proposes Cap-and-Trade System to Fund Transportation

December 18, 2014

After two years of watching gas-tax increases tank in the Legislature, Gov. Jay Inslee proposed Tuesday to take a new approach: Charge major polluters for the right to emit carbon.

Inslee’s plan, featuring a “cap-and-trade” system, would generate $400 million a year, he said, to cover nearly 40 percent of his $12 billion, 12-year transportation improvement plan. The remainder would come from bond debt, existing gas taxes, tolls and an assortment of vehicle fees.

The new six-lane Highway 520 bridge would be completed all the way to Interstate 5, using $1.4 billion, while the state would abandon the idea of tolling the I-90 Mercer Island floating bridge. An additional $1.3 billion would widen Interstate 405 from Bellevue to Renton.

Several projects have been on the drawing board for years, and even failed in a regional ballot in 2007.

Ferry riders would see a two-year freeze in fares, while a fourth ferry would be built to join the new Tokitae and two others under construction.

“We can clean our air and water at the same time we are fixing our air and our roads,” Inslee said in Medina, overlooking the 520 construction site. “It is indeed a twofer.”

Inslee, who is spending the week rolling out his budget wish list, is expected to announce further details about his Carbon Pollution Accountability Act, with his full budget proposal to come Thursday.

What the Democratic governor did make clear Tuesday is that in the face of Republican gains in the Legislature, he is holding fast to his idea that climate-change legislation can pay for much of government’s costs.

View Full Story From The Seattle Times