In the November 8 general election, Washington State voters will be asked to make a decision on how the future of gas-taxes and toll-revenues by voting on Initiative 1125.
The rhetoric surrounding this initiative will undoubtedly reach a fever pitch so we wanted to provide both sides of the issue together so the voter can make an educated choice. Below please find an outline of what Initiative 1125 would accomplish if approved by voters followed by the pros and cons of I-1125.
Initiative 1125 -- The Protect Gas-Taxes And Toll-Revenues Act
If approved by the voters, the measure would place a wide variety of restrictions on transportation spending in the state.
- It would prohibit motor vehicle fund revenue and vehicle toll revenue from being used for non-transportation purposes;
- It would prohibit non-highway use of state highway lanes funded by gas taxes or vehicle tolls;
- It would require the legislature to set tolls; and
- It would provide that a toll on a particular road or bridge, including the Interstate 90 floating bridge, could be used only for construction, operation, or maintenance of that particular road or bridge.
I-1125 does not change existing tolls, toll rates or toll methodologies, so there are no fiscal impacts on current projects if rates remain the same. Provisions apply to new tolls, increased tolls and changes to toll methodology to increase revenue.
Pros identified by Proponents of I-1125 (YESon1125.org)
- Requiring elected officials to set tolls provides accountability and transparency
- Tolling can be seen as a regressive, inequitable fee for low-income drivers
- Prevents continuous tolling from being used as general tax revenue
- Reaffirms restrictions in the 18th amendment: fees from cars, including license fees, fuel excise taxes, other state highway revenue sources, must be used for highway purposes
Cons identified by Opponents of I-1125 (VoteNO1125.com)
- Banning variable tolling would make it difficult to get bonds for projects
- Bond issuerswanttoknowthestatecanadjusttollingpricinginordertopaybonds back
- Eliminating this flexibility or putting tolling rates in the hands of the legislature would prevent investment or increase interest rates
- Setting tolling rates is a technical issue to be handled by traffic engineers, not a political issue to be handled by the Legislature and subject to the two-thirds majority rule from I- 1053
- Halting infrastructure projects, like the 520 bridge, negatively affects jobs and economic growth
- Ending tolling once the project is paid off does not cover long-term maintenance costs of the road or bridge
- Halts light rail extension to Eastside because restrictions on tolling revenue and highway use wouldn’t allow voter-approved light rail on the I-90 bridge
- Tolling is needed to balance out a decrease in gas tax revenue
- Variable tolls are one of four nationally recommended mechanisms to relieve congestion, based on a performance audit by the State Auditor’s Office and USDOT
- Creating transportation choices provides social equity
- Variable tolling distributes costs more fairly by placing more costs on peak hour drivers, who are creating the need for more capacity, and prevents the need for statewide measures, like raising the gas tax, that require drivers who do not use the specific road to help pay for the costs of the project
[box type="download" style="rounded" border="full"]Download the full text of Initiative 1125 from the State of Washington[/box]
Information for this article was in part provided by the State of Washington, the City of Kirkland, YESon1125.org and VoteNO1125.com