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Democrats’ transportation package would delay Belfair Bypass
OLYMPIA — The Transportation package introduced Feb. 20 by House Democrats, would unfairly impact the citizens of rural communities according to Rep. Drew MacEwen (R-Union) and Sen. Tim Sheldon (D- Potlatch). Both legislators from the 35th District are disappointed to see a new tax offered alongside long awaited construction funds.
The proposal included a 10-cent gas tax; which would be in addition to state taxes already in place. Like many areas around the state, a large percentage of 35th District citizens commute to work.
“Industry and businesses are regulated in our rural communities to the extent that most residents have no choice but to drive far distances for a job. Hardworking taxpayers should not be penalized for their commute which has been created by previous mistakes of government,” said MacEwen. “While 10 cents might not sound like much when it’s all added up, our citizens will pay 66 cents for every gallon at the pump and we would effectively have the highest gas tax in the nation.”
“A gas tax unfairly targets the people of my district because they have to travel for work. Additionally, inclusion of the tax makes it unlikely that many people will support this bill, so again we will lose funding for the Belfair Bypass, which is a key aspect of our community growth,” Sheldon said.
Both legislators were hopeful funding for the critically needed Belfair Bypass would become a reality this year. Discussions and planning to solve the congestion along State Route 3 have been in the works for over 40 years. In 2009, the Washington State Department of Transportation listed it as a top priority; however no construction has been started.
“The new package proposed confirms for many of us that the concerns of the people in our communities are not a priority,” MacEwen said. “Our communities have already paid for failed projects and construction that only benefits citizens of urban areas. The money we have spent on city projects could have paid for the Belfair Bypass many times over.”