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Wire Insider: Rep. Jake Fey

Rep. Jake Fey represents Washington’s 27th Legislative District. He serves as Chair of the House Transportation Committee and is a member of the House Environment & Energy Committee. He joins us as a “Wire Insider” to discuss I-976 and the outlook for the transportation budget heading into the 2020 legislative session.  

“We have to deal with the passage of Initiative 976 and budget reductions – the actual hard money that will not be available until and unless there is a successful lawsuit to roll back the initiative. So, my focus will be to try to find, with my legislative colleagues, the best way to spread the pain in a way that doesn’t do long-term damage to our transportation infrastructure. [A way] that doesn’t put transit agencies out of business and that allows us to at some level at least continue the great advancements we’ve made in addressing the transportation infrastructure. We passed a multi-million dollar package in 2015 that went a long way to addressing our needs, but there are more emerging needs.

So, first order of business is getting people to agree on cutting about $500 million out of the transportation budget. And then, focusing almost immediately on if not car tabs, what are the ways in which we’re going to raise flexible money that will allow us to pay for very important things – be it transit or be it rail service on Amtrak. And that won’t be an easy conversation. But this is a time to regroup a little bit, but not to be crestfallen and just say, “Well, I guess people don’t want transportation.” I don’t think that was what the vote was about. And I think that the initiative was not very well understood and we have to deal with the realities on the ground. And the realities on the ground is producing a budget that accepts the fact that that revenue may not be there and how we’re going to go forward for the rest of the biennium.”