Funding Part 1: How state transportation is funded
Should there be changes to how State transportation is funded?
To understand the roadmap to 2030 and how to implement the changes needed in statewide transportation, it helps to understand how transportation is funded in Washington at the state level.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is responsible for the state highway system, state ferry system, and works in partnership with others to maintain and improve local roads, railroads, airports, and multi-modal alternatives to driving.
Currently, the state has a 16-year transportation financial plan developed by the state Legislature. Total state transportation funding for the 2009-2025 financial plan is $46.7 billion, according to the March 2010 revenue forecast.
Transportation revenues for the state come from a variety of sources:
The motor vehicle fuel tax (also known as the gas tax) and licenses, permits and fees provide more than half of the total funding for the system. The motor vehicle fuel tax, the largest single source of state transportation revenue, is the third oldest state tax, adopted in 1921. The rate has changed 21 times in its history. Increasing the fuel tax rate does not happen very often, in part because raising taxes is so politically unpopular.
In an upcoming post, we’ll discuss the current funding situation and the questions of revenue sources. For now, though, we’ll leave readers with the question: What would be some alternative ways to fund transportation in Washington at the state level?