The Senate Transportation Committee conducted a public hearing on the chamber’s supplemental transportation budget on Wednesday, the third of three budgets the Senate rolled out this week.
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Among other provisions of the budget, the supplemental transportation budget as presented by the Senate includes methods of offsetting the expected $453 million budget deficit this biennium caused by Initiative 976, passed last year. These methods include reduced appropriations, fewer funds being transferred out of the multimodal transportation account and funding of grant programs being postponed or reduced. Several departments are tightening their belts as a result of the shortfall, as spending authority for many agencies will be reduced.
“This budget we put together is the best solution we could come up with,” said Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44th District). “This was very challenging and I don’t think you can do any better. We have to deal with this budget crisis.”
Hobbs said the transportation budget as proposed by the Senate protects maintains the safety of the state’s transportation system,
The challenge of crafting a budget that helped offset most of the deficit caused by I-976 were many. Transportation revenue projections are down this biennium by $344 million, a fraction of the $2.6 billion deficit expected over the next 10 years. The main agencies to see a loss in revenues because of the passage of the initiative included the multimodal transportation account’s $338 million loss, an $88 million loss to the motor vehicle, transportation partnership and 2003 nickel accounts and a $24 million cut to the State Patrol Highway Account.
“This approach allows projects to be implemented on schedule,” said Celia Jackson, Deputy Government Relations Director for King County. “This includes important projects like the RapidRide H line. These expansions are critical for south king county because they provide much-need access for some of our most vulnerable populations.”