Monday, March 18, 2013

Legislative Update: Transit Funding on Backburner for Now

Photo: Wikipedia
Last week was the deadline for bills to make it out of their house of origin in the state legislature. Technically, no transit funding bills made it out of the House or Senate. But transit funding is still alive thanks to rules that make these measures budget-eligible.

There were two bills that would benefit Community Transit directly - HB 1953 and SB 5773. The senate bill died, but the house bill was declared required to implement the budget, so it can be brought back later.

Separately, House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn's comprehensive transportation funding package (HB 1954) is also on hold until budget discussions take place beginning later this month. Legislative leaders have said dealing with the budget deficit and funding K-12 education are their top priorities this session, but the fact that transit funding is still alive means there is hope.

On March 20, the state economic forecast will provide the next big piece to the state funding puzzle as it will advise legislators on how much money is expected to be available this biennium. Then the numbers crunching will begin. It is expected that transportation funding will be a lower priority in these discussions, but still on the table.

Meanwhile, groups like the Washington State Transit Association, Transportation Choices Coalition and even the Association of Washington Business continue to push legislators for some type of transportation funding package. That will help keep the issue at the table.

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