Senate okays highway plan, debates tax plan

The state Senate gave strong support Saturday to a fast-track transportation plan intended to fix some of Washington’s worst traffic congestion, but debated whether to pass a statewide gas-tax plan or send it to the voters.
The unusual weekend session resulted in a 31-14 vote for the transportation plan, which would allow King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to cooperate on large transportation projects, in part by authorizing the counties to ask residents to vote on highway construction plans and the taxes to pay for them.
The House of Representatives is expected to pass its transportation plan this week.
During Saturday’s debate, senators split over whether the state highway tax plan should go on the general ballot or be approved in Olympia. No decisions were made on the perennial hot-button issue.
Also Saturday, senators unanimously approved an efficiency measure intended to boost productivity at the state Department of Transportation. At press time, the House was expected to approve that measure today and send the bill to the governor’s desk.