Less Government, Lower Taxes and More Freedom –

Over the past few weeks, we have heard speculation and rumors of a November Special Session to consider a phased increase to the gas tax by six to ten cents per gallon. The Freedom Agenda Team has received confirmation that negotiations have started and are ongoing, thus eliminating any speculation; if an agreement can be reached there will be a special session.

As soon as we heard the rumors, the Freedom Agenda Team began working to identify efficiencies and reforms that would offset any need for additional taxation on the citizens of Washington. After weeks of working with the nonpartisan OPR staff for the House of Representatives, we have prepared a series of bills that eliminate any need for an increase to the gas tax.

Permit Streamlining/Regulatory Reform – The Freedom Agenda Team has prepared four separate bills to address permit streamlining and regulatory reform, including reform to the State Environmental Policy Act, consistency requirements, mitigation requirements, and best management practices.

Sales Tax – The Washington State Constitution requires all revenue received from the gas tax be used exclusively for highway purposes. Under current law, sales tax collected from transportation projects (funded by the gas tax) are deposited into the General Fund and not used for transportation purposes. The Freedom Agenda Team has drafted a bill to require all state sales tax generated through transportation projects be reallocated to other transportation projects.

Prevailing Wage – Achieving full reform of prevailing wage is problematic given that the Davis-Bacon Act requires prevailing wage be paid on federally funded public works projects. What we can address is the elimination of prevailing wage on projects that aren’t federally funded and we have a bill which does that.

In addition to these bills, the Freedom Agenda Team has identified a series of budgetary reforms which would save additional taxpayers’ dollars, including eliminating state support for transit services, except for services provided to the most vulnerable.

These reforms could save the taxpayers of Washington more than $2.3 billion over 12 years, which equates to six cents per gallon. Given the amount of savings expected through these reforms, the Freedom Agenda Team is also proposing a phased decrease to the gas tax by six cents per gallon.

It’s time for a better way. The state cannot tax its way out of the problems it has created, ignoring simple, yet significant, efficiencies and reforms. It is vitally important that you contact your Representatives and House Republican Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen (360-786-7967) and let them know what you think. You can also participate in an online survey being conducted by the House Republicans at www.surveymonkey.com/s/JYWS2H2. Let your voices be heard.

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