The Washington State Senate on Monday approved a 16 year, $15 billion dollar transportation package that includes an 11.7 cent gas tax and other vehicle fees. Despite passage of the package many senators, including Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, expressed his concerns with the proposal. “The point is that this bill has been touted as being a jobs bill and we have a lot of congestion in Puget Sound and this will create a lot of jobs in Puget Sound. But for people that represent districts that still have close to the highest unemployment in the state, I don’t see this bill bringing a lot of jobs into our area. It seems to me like it would do better to turn Bertha loose and drill a couple tunnels out into the hinterlands and actually start to put some economic development out in our rural areas.”

The transportation package will now go to the House of Representatives for their consideration.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said yesterday “I’m glad to see the Senate act on transportation today. I’ve been pushing for a transportation investment package since my first day in office. Today’s vote is solid progress and it begins the next round of negotiations. I want to thank the Senate Democrats who led the push for a clean bill. I still have concerns about strings attached to the Senate proposal that would divert funding for schools, local government and toxic clean-up and would impact Washington’s ability to measurably reduce carbon emissions. As I’ve said before, we must move forward on transportation, education and carbon reduction this year and I look forward to working with legislators to get all three done.”