State starting to spend $3.6 billion in FAST Act funds

This week Governor Inslee’s office formally communicated the state’s approach to the distribution of almost $3.6 billion in federal FAST Act funds: Status quo for now, and a new policy developed after lawmakers leave Olympia this year.

The state's old policy for splitting federal funds does not reflect that new performance measures are designed to guide federal funding for state and local roads.

The state’s old policy for splitting federal funds does not reflect that new performance measures are designed to guide federal funding for state and local roads.


This week’s announcement impacts changes being made to the state transportation budget in the current 60 day session of the state legislature, and decisions throughout the state about which projects will receive federal funds over the next five years.

Here’s what the Governor’s office said this week:

”The Governor’s office and the Office of Financial Management have communicated with legislative transportation committee chairs about a short-term and long-term plan for allocating FAST Act money: For the remainder of the 2015-17 biennium, the current 66 percent-34 percent state/local split will remain for the core FHWA programs with the exception of the new freight program formula funds.”

The upcoming state transportation revenue forecast, due next week, will be the first to include the FAST Act.

Over the next few weeks the Governor and lawmakers will use that forecast to finalize the supplemental state transportation budget through June 2017.

Sometime this spring, the Governor’s office expects to convene a group to review changes in the FAST Act and recommend a new policy:

“The new split agreement from our group discussion would then be recommended to the Governor and Legislature for the 2017-19 state biennial budget period through the remainder of the FAST Act.”

The last time this happened was in 2012, two meetings were held to modify distributions within the old 64% state, 34% local split.

This time, the door is open to consider a new split.

Local elected leaders around the state will be making the case for a policy that better meets the needs of all the parts of the state’s transportation system.


Governor decides: Clean transportation and clean air

Governor Jay Inslee says the state will pursue a new regulatory cap on carbon emissions – but not a new clean fuel standard.


A new pedestrian bridge connecting Northgate with North Seattle College would receive $10 million in state funding – funding that appears to be secure with Governor Inslee’s decision today. (City of Seattle conceptual design)

With the decision, about $1.2 billion in transportation projects and programs appear primed to proceed as planned.

The projects are at risk if the state pursues a new clean fuel standard prior to 2023.

Governor Inslee had promised to make a “difficult decision.”

“I heard broad agreement that we need both clean transportation and clean air,” the Governor said today, after a week or so of conferring with a variety of interests.

The decision appears to secure the entire $16 billion, 16-year, statewide transportation package enacted just over a week ago.

With the additional new local and regional authority included in the package, it could result in an estimated $26 billion transportation investment within the region.


Governor Inslee signs transportation package into law

State and regional leaders joined Governor Jay Inslee at the University of Washington today as the state’s biggest ever transportation investment package was signed into law.

Governor signs package

Governor Jay Inslee is flanked by House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island and Senate Transportation Chairman Curtis King of Yakima as he signs the historic transportation package into law.

“I’ve been advocating for a transportation investment package since my first day in office. Legislators passed a 16-year, $16 billion package that will create thousands of jobs, address critical safety needs around the state, make historic investments in transit and fund projects that relieve congestion,” the Governor said.  “Together, we will move our state forward.”

Here’s how the Governor’s office summarized the package:

Moving WA forward

For the central Puget Sound region, it’s estimated that the package could result in as much $26 billion in new transportation investment.

PSRC staff has prepared a summary of the sources and uses of funding in the package and a list of specific projects funded within the region.

Transportation package sent to Governor

Final votes in the state House sent the state’s largest transportation investment package to Governor Jay Inslee.


Governor Inslee on the poison pill: “This creates a tough decision, and I’ll make it after I review all our options.”

“This is an incredibly important investment package that creates hundreds of thousands of construction jobs, greatly strengthens our economic prospects into the future, and makes historic investments in transit and other multi-modal improvements that provide reliable options for commuters across the state,” the Governor said.

But the Governor has yet to decide whether all of the investments in the package will go forward.

The so called “poison-pill” in the package would withhold spending of about $2 billion on ferries, transit and other investments should the Governor proceed with enforcement of a new clean fuel standard.

“I signed this transportation package even though it included the poison pill because it’s important that we move forward on critical investments that provide safety, jobs and traffic relief,” Inslee said. “This creates a tough decision, and I’ll make it after I review all our options.”

The final votes in the state legislature were the culmination of a years-long effort by a broad statewide coalition of business, government, labor and civic interests.

The Puget Sound Regional Council first recommended a new transportation package in the Fall of 2010.

PSRC staff has prepared a summary of the sources and uses of funding in the package and a list of specific projects funded within the region.

Transportation votes loom in Olympia and DC

While Washington State awaits final votes in the state legislature on a landmark transportation investment package by the weekend, the entire nation is depending on action by Congress to keep existing federal transportation programs alive past July 31.

Members of Congress need to find an estimated $11 billion to fully fund federal transportation programs through the end of the year.

Congressman Reichert

Washington Congressman Dave Reichert told Politico this week that leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee are: “hoping for an extension until the end of the year” to buy enough time for a “five- to six- to seven-year long-term bill.”

But many are hoping for a longer term fix that would require finding as much as $90 billion more over the next six years.

One key Senate committee has agreed to a long term policies, but tax and budget writers in the House and Senate have yet to propose funding to keep things alive through this year – or through 2021.

Congressman Dave Reichert of Auburn is Chairman of a key funding subcommittee charged with finding solutions.  He indicated this week that committee leaders are looking at a shorter term fix that can set the stage for a long term bill.

The federal Highway Trust Fund has faced chronic shortfalls for years and Congress has always found funding to keep programs going.

Within the central Puget Sound region, over 375 projects and programs are counting on $1.6 billion in federal funds over the next three years.

In Olympia, lawmakers have until July 27 to take final votes on the Connecting Washington transportation package during the current special session – but are now expected to complete their work by the weekend.

All three major components of the transportation package have cleared the state Senate.

The state House has passed the key revenue bill, and has been expected to act on the bonding and project pieces of the package on Friday.

An agreement on education policy announced by Senate leaders today is expected to end a logjam that had held up final votes in the House on transportation.  Final votes are expected in the state Senate tomorrow.

Governor Jay Inslee called the agreement great news that “allows the Legislature to move forward on wrapping up its work for this year.”


Transportation package appears a day, or two, away?

Governor Jay Inslee is urging state lawmakers to wrap up work on a transportation package and capital budget, “as soon as possible so that we can start putting out the construction cones and getting people to work.”

Chairwoman Clibborn

Representative Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island leads the House to pass a sweeping transportation package this morning. (TVW)

It will take at least another day.

The state House may convene again tomorrow morning after passing a major transportation funding bill before dawn this morning.  The vote was 54 to 44.

The state Senate has approved all three bills in the transportation package:  Funding, bonding and budget.

Should the House pass the remaining bonding and budget bills tomorrow, with no changes, what’s been called “the most important transportation investment in the region’s history” will just need the Governor’s final approval.

If there are changes, the state Senate would need to take final votes.  It plans to convene again on Friday.

But the schedule appears to depend on agreement by leadership about delaying implementation of Initiative 1351, which requires reductions in K-12 class sizes.

PSRC staff has prepared a summary of the sources and uses of funding in the compromise transportation agreement, along with the list of specific projects funded within the region.

Transportation package awaits final approval in House and Senate

The biggest transportation investment in the region’s history awaits action by the state legislature – in the final hours of what’s expected to be the final day of a brief special session.

Senator Curtis King

Senator Curtis King of Yakima leads action in the state Senate last night on “the most important transportation investment in our region’s history.” (TVW)

Last night the Senate approved funding for the package 39 to 9.

Just two Senators representing the region – Sen. Pam Roach of Auburn and Sen. Kirk Pearson of Monroe – voted no.

Early today the House began action on transportation reform measures.

The House awaits action on the three main elements of the compromise announced yesterday.

The Senate must still act on one more – the budget bill, which spells out how funds will be spent.

PSRC staff has prepared information on new funding sources and uses in the package, along with a list of $6.8 billion in specific projects in the region that would be funded.

Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign the state operating fund budget “later this evening” to avert a partial state government shutdown tomorrow.

The Governor has encouraged the state legislature to approve the compromise transportation package by today.