Last week brought with it both chambers unveiling their transportation, capital and operating budgets. Highlights of the transportation and capital budgets include:

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

Senate Transportation Budget

The Senate 2019-2021 Transportation Budget proposal includes total appropriations of $9.8 billion for the two-year fiscal period, up $408 million from the level adopted for the 2017-2019 biennium in the 2018 supplemental budget. Most of the major transportation budget revenue sources, including fuel taxes, license/permit/fee revenues, and toll revenues, are all up slightly from the forecast projection last session.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

The Senate makes a number of investments that are important to counties. These include:

  • $274 million in the current biennium ($3.1 billion over the next ten years) to WSDOT for fish culvert removal/remediation with explicit language instructing WSDOT to coordinate with the Fish Passage Barrier Removal Board to use a watershed approach to maximize habitat gain by replacing both state and local culverts;
  • Full funding for the County Road Administrative Board (CRAB);
  • Full funding for the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB);
  • Full funding for the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board (FMSIB);
  • Language authorizing counties to utilize our fuel-tax study money for continued fish passage barrier/culvert inventories, coordination with WSDOT to update the Local Agency Guidelines Manual (LAG), and efforts to research potential new revenue streams for county road departments;
  • $150,000 for the Cooper Jones Active Transportation housed within the Transportation Safety Commission for identification of opportunities to improve safety in the transportation system.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

Unlike the House budget, the Senate does not include the county priority of establishing a Surface Transportation Program (STP) federal fund swap program within WSDOT.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

Other Expenditures

The biennial budget includes about $5.2 billion in capital expenditures, an increase of a little over 18% from revised 2017-19 spending levels. Notable capital project expenditures include:

  • $8.5 million for an I-5 Columbia River Bridge office;
  • $40 million for the SR 167/SR 509 Puget Sound Gateway;
  • $18 million I-90/Barker to Harvard – Improve Interchanges & Local Roads;
  • $17 million I-90 Snoqualmie Pass – Widen to Easton;
  • $11.2 million SR 26/Dusty to Colfax – Add Climbing Lanes;
  • $11 million SR 155/Omak Bridge Rehabilitation;
  • $182 million for a new 144-car hybrid electric vessel with construction beginning 2023-25;
  • $41.5 million for up to two hybrid-electric ferry conversions with direction to seek additional funding and state funding contingent on receipt of Volkswagen settlement funds.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

Senate Capital Budget

The Senate Capital Budget, as compared to the Governor and House budgets, does the best job at protecting the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) by authorizing $200 million in loan authority for the 2019-2021, and transferring no additional monies out of the account. However, it does not restore previously transferred dollars, including transfers to the Water Pollution Control Account and the Drinking Water Assistance Account. The Senate Capital Budget also appropriates $20 million from the PWAA for a state broadband program but does not transfer the money out of the account.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

The Senate budget provides $30.588 million in funding to the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board for fish passage barrier removal projects identified for funding in the 2019-2021 biennium. Importantly, the budget also fully funds the administrative functions of the board, a critical element left out of the Governor’s budget.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

House Transportation Budget

The House 2019-2021 Transportation Budget proposal includes a total appropriation of $10.0 billion for the two-year fiscal period, up almost $600 million from the level adopted for the 2017-19 biennium in the 2018 supplemental budget. The net change of about $600 million represents offsetting capital activity. Other changes reflect increases in amounts for fish passage barrier correction, the acquisition, and conversion of several ferry vessels, and state employee compensation, as well as a drop in federal funding.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

The House makes a number of investments that are important to counties. These include:

  • The inclusion of a proviso directing the Washington State Association of Counties to work with the WSDOT on a Surface Transportation Program federal fund exchange;
  • Full funding for the County Road Administrative Board (CRAB);
  • Full funding for the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB);
  • $300,000 for WSDOT to pilot a multimedia public information campaign in Whatcom County, regarding the damage of studded tire use on state and local roadways, and to continue the existing public information campaign in Spokane County;
  • $150,000 for the Cooper Jones Active Transportation housed within the Transportation Safety Commission for identification of opportunities to improve safety in the transportation system;
  • Language authorizing counties to utilize our fuel-tax study money for continued fish passage barrier/culvert inventories, coordination with WSDOT to update the Local Agency Guidelines Manual (LAG), and efforts to research potential new revenue streams for county road departments.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

Connecting Washington

The budget continues funding for the Connecting WA package. Notable expenditures include:

  • SR 520 corridor improvements on the west end ($396 million);
  • Corridor widening and improvements on I-405 from Renton to Bellevue ($384 million);
  • Preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition, and early construction on the Puget Sound Gateway, SR 167, and SR 509 ($265 million);
  • Expansion of the I-5 corridor through Joint Base Lewis-McChord ($165 million);
  • Construction of US 395 in the North Spokane Corridor ($164 million).
  • $60 million to complete the Mukilteo terminal;
  • $115 million for the Colman Dock terminal in Seattle;
  • $8.75 million to resume efforts related to replacing the Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River;
  • $5 million for the WSDOT Aviation Program for the Aviation Airport Lean Revolving Account to implement the new general aviation airport loan program
  • Continued support for the Road Usage Charge study by the Transportation Commission;
  • $463,000 to the Traffic Safety Commission for autonomous vehicle work;

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

New Initiatives

The House also funds new legislative initiatives. These include:

  • $124 million in new funding to WSDOT for fish passage barrier removal, and an additional $25 million to the Fish Barrier Removal Board for local government grants.
  • Increased funding for the state’s ferry system, including for the electrification of ferry vessels for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) ferry program.
  • $12 million for a new capital grant program to aid transit authorities in funding cost-effective capital electrification projects.
  • $375,000 to support a Washington State University education program for public agencies on alternative fuel vehicles.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

House Capital Budget

The proposed budget further sweeps funds out of the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA). The House sweeps an additional $160 million out of the PWAA—in addition to continuing the diversions of REET, solid waste utility revenues, and public utility tax revenues. Of the $100 million remaining in the fund, approximately $20 million is earmarked for specific projects, including:

  • Prioritizing water and sewer infrastructure projects and is directed to fund a specific list of projects totaling $6.822 million in grants and prioritize an additional loan amount of $14 million for these projects;
  • $6 million is transferred from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) to the Water Pollution Control Account in FY 20 and again in FY 21.
  • $11 million is transferred from the PWAA to the Drinking Water Assistance Account.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

Week #11

With budgets released and most of their public hearings behind us, the budgets will move behind closed doors as legislators begin their conference negotiations. There is still time to influence the negotiations, and WSACE will be working hard to get the STP fund swap proviso into the final budget.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

The Legislature will continue to hear bills in committees this week, and Wednesday brings with it another important milestone: bills from the opposite chamber need to be out of policy committees. If they fail to advance, they are considered dead.

[boc_spacing height=”15px”]

With the budgets now unveiled, and cutoffs fast-approaching, the final few weeks of session will be busy and fast-paced.