The state of Washington has a big and unresolved problem: a transportation budget deficit of large proportions. A task force appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2011 estimated that the backlog is at least $50 billion, but that the most important needs could be met with the expenditure of $21 billion over 10 years. New revenue sources would be required, and the task force provides a number of possibilities. Advocates hoped a hefty measure could be placed before state voters this year, when the presidential race assured a good turnout, particularly of Democratic voters.
The governor pared that sum to $3.6 billion when she asked the legislature to adopt a fee on oil refined in the state. But the 2012 legislature did not agree to the fee and was only able to make a relatively small down payment of about $90 million per biennium through a package of fees on motorists. New license plates which were free now cost $10. Owners of electric vehicles must pay an annual $100 fee.