House Republican transportation leader says governor’s transportation budget plan is on the wrong road

A new state transportation budget proposed late last week by Governor Jay Inslee would delay more than a billion dollars in road, bridge and highway projects negotiated in 2015, while increasing spending on climate change policies. The proposal has drawn strong criticism from a key House Republican transportation leader.

Inslee’s 10-point-8 billion-dollar transportation budget proposal would increase spending for such things as ultra-high-speed rail, electrifying ferries and buses, and expanding public transit. The governor also hopes to convince the Legislature to delay projects from the 2015 Connecting Washington funding package.

Representative Andrew Barkis is the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee. He says delaying projects to fund the governor’s climate agenda is not only bad policy — it breaks a promise made to the Washington’s citizens:

“We have not finished projects from the original nickel package and there is a myriad of projects from Connecting Washington that remain to be completed. So we should focus on making sure that we complete the ones that we started, so we deliver on the promises that were made.”

The Olympia lawmaker says finishing the Connecting Washington highway projects, along with maintenance and preservation of existing infrastructure, are the most urgent needs — and will be transportation priorities of House Republicans when the Legislature convenes January 11th.