Dear Friends and neighbors:
Happy Spring, Daylight Savings time, and April Fools’ day! April 1st means there are 23 constitutional days remaining in the regular 2011 session. The recent budget forecast predicts continued declining revenues - $800 million less than expected - so the hardest work is still ahead. You can try out your ideas to balance the budget via the Senate Democrats website using the Governor’s budget calculator by clicking here.
Still getting lots of e-mails and phone calls! It’s a good kind of challenge to have for my two assistants to go through a couple hundred every day to make sure our 11th district people are responded to at least once. As always, you are welcome to contact me with questions, ideas or suggestions so accurate, up-to-date information can be provided for you.
Senator Margarita Prentice
Transportation budget keeps projects on schedule
The nearly $9 billion, bipartisan transportation budget proposed last week by the Senate is the first time in history that the state will collect less transportation revenue than the previous biennium.
State gas tax revenue is declining even with higher gas prices. (See how the gas tax is distributed here.) Unlike regular retail tax, it is not collected on the cost of the gas at the pump. Gas tax is strictly 37.5 cents per gallon – no matter the cost of the gallon. Transportation alternatives are more popular than ever, so fewer gallons are being sold. In addition to nearly $28 million in reduced administrative costs at the Department of Transportation and at the Department of Licensing, the budget provides more reform in a number of bills currently before the Legislature:
- SB 5405 Terminal supervisors are added to WSFManagement. Employees are now under Industrial Insurance instead of general federal maritime law and the Jones Act.
- SB 5250 WSDOT will use the design and the build out to bid process instead of WSDOT designing the project and then putting it out for bid and build.
- SB 5128 Various statewide planning requirements are removed from law and WSDOT is charged with developing one statute that is a federally compliant long-range statewide transportation plan.
- SB 5796 Implements recommendations from the Joint Transportation Committee’s public transportation study.
- SB 5797 Implements efficiencies for transportation agencies as recommended by the JTC.
- SB 5061 Makes technical corrections to streamline vehicle/vessel title and registration statutes beginning July 1, 2011.
- SB 5251 Imposes an annual fee on electric vehicles to make up for lost gas tax.
Work on the remaining projects funded by the “Nickel” tax of 2003 and the Transportation Partnership Act of 2005 will proceed as scheduled. A diversion of funds from other core transportation programs will be needed to make up lost gas tax revenues. These projects are essential to maintaining safe travel flow for motorists and commercial freight.
A great side bonus is these projects support an average of 10,000 direct, indirect jobs every year over 10 years. This Transportation budget is the most significant jobs package this session and it sends money and jobs to every corner of the state.
SeaTac Noise Study Open House
The fourth in a series of public meetings for SeaTac Airport’s Part 150 Noise Study will be April 9th in the Arrivals Hall. The study is looking at ways to reduce aircraft noise impacts on communities around SeaTac Airport. Drop by anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Parking will be validated.
At the open house, there will be a number of stations staffed by Port staff and consultants. Some of the topics at the stations include:
- The new, still in draft form, noise remedy boundary, which determines insulation eligibility
- Discussion of noise abatement programs
- Potential new sound insulation programs
- An update on the Hush House, designed to suppress aircraft engine testing noise
Participants can also sign up for airfield bus tours throughout the day (space is limited).
The Arrivals Hall is at the south end of the main terminal, baggage claim level. Park at the south end of the airport garage, on floors 5 through 8, near the yellow or green elevators, rows N through U. Take the elevator to floor 4 of the garage and walk across skybridge 1 to the main terminal. Look for signs directing you to the Arrivals Hall, next to baggage claim carousel 1.
Traffic Improvements on S. Center Parkway Begin
Crews closed the Northbound Interstate 5 off-ramp to southbound Southcenter Parkway at the Westfield Mall last week as a revision project scheduled to last until November begins. Portions of Southcenter Parkway and Klickitat Drive are also closed. Businesses will remain open throughout the project, so if you plan to visit the area expect traffic delays and find alternate routes.
I-405 in Bellevue (between SR 520 and NE 8th Street) will close April 2-3. Drivers should expect more traffic on I-405 and I-5, potentially as far south as Tukwila.
Burien Clean Sweep April 30th
This year’s Burien Clean Sweep is scheduled to begin at 8 AM at the Burien Fire Station. Volunteers will receive breakfast and lunch. Be sure to bring your own tools, gloves and rain gear if needed.
Did you know?
You can sign up to receive emergency information on your cell phone, text, work phone from the Burien Alert System? Log onto www.burienwa.gov and follow the opt-in instructions. Also, in the event of a natural disaster, tune to 540 AM or Burien TV Channel 21 for local emergency information.