To the editor:
Washington’s 63rd legislative 105-day session races along with bills penned, debated, and discarded to the cutting-room floor.
“All animals are equal but some more than others.” The same holds true for legislative bills.
House Democrat majority prepares to steamroll their $10 billion transportation package built on new gas taxes (10 cent/gallon), jump in car-tax fees (100-200 percent), and bicycle fees. End product: series of statewide mega-highway projects. Glaringly absent is genuine reform to transportation priorities, state Department of Transportation organization/performance and Washington State Ferries vision. Remind Representatives Appleton and Hansen true reform must precede $10 billion in taxes. Democrat pending bill is AWOL on reform.
Fortunately, the new Senate coalition majority indicates they will demand reform before any transportation plan is approved. I have long championed the key element of DOT funding reform by repeal of RCW 47.60.814(17) passed in 1990. This law requires WSF vessels be built only in Washington state (Vigor Industries sole bidder) resulting in taxpayers paying a 40 percent subsidy mark-up on all WSF vessel construction.
Both the state auditor’s WSF audit last month and Governor Gregoire’s 2010 Blue Ribbon Commission challenged the fiscal sense of preventing an open-bid national search for vessel-construction value. With a dangerously aged WSF fleet with a replacement-rate of a vessel every 2.7 years, billions of dollars in taxpayer waste are in the balance. Free-market construction bidding works outstandingly well for private business/individuals, why not WSF?
The Senate majority coalition is giving this critical reform a hearing in Olympia. In the 23rd District, contact Senator Rolfes and tell her reform of DOT/WSF is critical before we see a dime in new taxes. Our ferry fleet is expensive and critical to us, we must have the highest and best value for our taxpayers’ hard-earned money.