Electric transportation in state budget

By Sydney Brown

WNPA News Service

The state House of Representatives passed a $10.94 billion transportation budget with some bipartisan support. The vote on April 2 was 87-11. The budget pays for expanded green transportation and improved roadways.

Construction of a hybrid-electric ferry will get $152.5 million, along with $12 million toward electric vehicle grants and $15 million for reducing carbon emissions.

The proposal also spends $726 million on fish passage barrier removals to comply with federal Department of Transportation standards. More than $1 billion would go toward road construction, corridor widening and engineering for several state highways and corridors.

“With an influx of pandemic federal relief funds, we are able to invest in fish passage barrier removal and provide much needed funding for the state’s ferry system,” Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, said in a statement.

In addressing equity, budget writers proposed $6 million for the Pre-Apprenticeship Support Services program for contractors from underrepresented groups. Another $2 million would be dedicated to the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises for contractors.

“Historically, transportation budgets focus on concrete and asphalt. We’ve tried to break new ground in this budget and focus on equity and opportunity for everyone in Washington state,” said Rep. Bill Ramos, D-Issaquah.

To fund the new proposal, lawmakers will rely on both federal funding from the American Rescue Plan and the passage of proposed taxes on carbon emissions and gasoline. The budget got support from across the aisle, with agreement on funding for road projects and preserving the ferry system.

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