Governor Inslee’s 2020 Supplemental Transportation budget was released Wednesday, December 18, 2019. The Governor was forced to address a funding shortfall of over $450 million after voters approved Initiative 976 earlier this fall. Initiative 976 significantly cuts funding for state and local transportation projects and operations. It lowers state car-tab fees, repeals Sound Transit car-tab taxes, and eliminates a .3% sales tax on vehicle purchases and the authority for cities to charge car-tab fees.
In addition to the $450+ million shortfall this biennium, budget analysts predict more than $1.9 billion in losses to the State over the next six years. Total revenue losses for local governments and Sound Transit are projected at more than $2.3 billion over six years.
Governor Inslee chose to deal with much of the reductions by delaying and pausing certain projects that are planned but not yet underway. He has directed the Washington Department of Transportation to defer highway projects for the next seven months. Projects in local programs, public transportation and rail are delayed until the 2021-2021 biennium. A list of deferred projects can be found here.
In implementing the Governor’s directive, the supplemental budget directs WSDOT to follow guiding principles, including:
- Maintaining safety in our transportation system by continuing work on preservation and other related projects.
- Mitigating impacts on people who rely on transit, such as vulnerable individuals and seniors.
- Continuing to meet legal obligations such as maintaining progress on fish passage barrier removal.
- Maintaining matching funds from nonstate sources, when possible.
The budget also uses some fund balances and administrative reductions, shifts costs where possible and temporarily redirects some revenue to help address the funding gap. This includes a $12.5 million reduction to the county/city motor vehicle fuel tax distribution. Governor Inslee held harmless the multimodal and motor vehicle account distributions to counties and cities. Additionally, the Governor increases the amount allowed to be bonded against various accounts – to the tune of around $600 million.
The Governor protected critical preservation and maintenance programs at the County Road Administration Board (CAPP and RAP), the Transportation Improvement Board, and the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board. We are extremely grateful for the Governor’s prioritization of these important programs and will advocate for the Legislature to follow his lead.
Culvert Replacement and Salmon Recovery
As he did in his 2019 budget, Governor Inslee once again prioritizes state culvert replacement and salmon recovery by finding an additional $157 million in the transportation budget for fish passage barrier removal. This is up from the $100 million funded by the Legislature in 2019.
Money for local governments is unchanged with $26.45 million in the capital budget going to the Fish Barrier Removal Board.
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