The House Transportation Committee released its 2020 supplemental budget proposal on Monday, February 24. The supplemental budget largely reflects changes since the 2019 legislative session. Most significant is the passage of Initiative 976 in November 2019. I-976 rolls back state and local motor vehicle license fees to $30 per year. It also repeals fees associated with motor homes, ferry service, electric vehicles, and vehicle weights. The loss of revenue to the state is estimated to be $450 million for the 2019-2021 biennium, and upwards of $2 billion over the next decade. Local governments are estimated to lose close to $2 billion over the next ten years.
The House makes up the $450 million shortfall through various means, including staffing allotment changes, discontinuing the Elwha ferry service, underruns in WSDOT Local Programs, delays and reductions in rail projects, delaying project grants, and one-time savings of canceled projects. Savings were also realized with the Governor’s “pause” of some Connecting WA projects. The four-month delay associated with the pause has resulted in $104 million in savings. Additionally, the budget assumes savings associated with unspent fund balances and reappropriations. Questions are surrounding what “unspent fund balances” represent and whether these are actual cuts or just delays.
Notably, the Rural Arterial Program (RAP) through the County Road Administration Board sees a $15 million decrease. There is confusion over whether this is a true cut or a reappropriation of unspent funds. We are currently working with lawmakers and CRAB staff to assess the impacts.
For a full analysis of the budget, visit the Washington Leap site to access a full summary, the budget bill, and agency detail reports.
The Senate Transportation Committee is expected to release its budget later this week.