Can you afford the Belfair Bypass? Bypass can be viewed as a model of the larger budget issues

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Special to the Shelton Journal

Since taking office in January, I have been studying the Belfair Bypass project as well as all state government.  What is happening with the construction of our bypass is the small-scale version of what is happening in every budget the state has proposed so far.

Essentially the state Legislature has chosen to ignore the bureaucratic problems, oppose fundamental reforms of the Department of Transportation and other agencies, and ask you, the taxpayers, for more money.

One of my goals, since I ran for office, has been to get the Belfair Bypass funded.  This would greatly enhance freight mobility, congestion relief and be an economic stimulus to our region. I believe the bypass is important for our district.

What I believe even more strongly, is our district needs to keep the money it earns. We need to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads, gas in our cars and money in our local economy.

I've been disappointed to see the solution offered by many in the Legislature.  That solution is for our state government to ask our hardworking families for more of their hard-earned money time and time again.

The latest transportation budget claims it would fund construction of the bypass – a claim that has been made before. Democrats who wrote this budget say construction can happen, but only with a new 13-cent per gallon gas tax. If it passes, we will pay 69 cents in taxes for every gallon at the pump and have the highest gas tax in the nation. There are many members of the Legislature that believe this is a fine bargain.

If you live in Seattle, maybe it is fine. If you live in Mason County, where 50 percent of the residents commute outside the county every day for work, your gas bill will increase by hundreds of dollars. Can you afford that? Even if it builds the bypass, can you afford to pay hundreds more per year, every year for the same amount of fuel? Without a doubt, this tax unfairly targets Mason County. It discriminates against citizens in rural areas and lower income families, while benefitting urban centers.

This isn't the first time we have been asked to accept a tax. The architects of the 2005 state gas tax increase over-promised and under-delivered. The last gas tax increase built an off-ramp in the wrong place, a faulty ferry and flawed pontoons for the 520 Bridge replacement. Without creating any new standards of accountability they are asking us to accept a tax again.

If we look at what has happened with the Belfair Bypass as an example, we can understand how the Legislature works regarding their budget as a whole.

They have taken something that would make the lives of people better – a bypass that decreases congestion and increases property values – and held it hostage until we agree to pay more. They misspent the money we already sent them for transportation and have given no sign that they can or will spend new dollars more wisely.

House Democrats and the governor are doing the same thing on a larger scale with the operating budget.

They are taking something that improves our quality of life – a good education for our children – and are holding it hostage to agreement on increased taxes. The majority party proposes $1.3 billion in new taxes; including a 270 percent increase on service businesses, such as your local insurance and real estate agent.

Our state government misspent lottery money and other tax dollars we already sent and refuses to examine what didn't work. Our state leadership has failed us financially and continues to pick politics over people and make excuses for breaking their promise not to raise taxes.

Every industry and labor group has lobbyists in Olympia working on their behalf. Who do the taxpayers have? I can assure you – you have me. I will fight against tax increases and fight for reforming state government so that we can get Washington working again.

State Representative Drew MacEwen
35th Legislative District
RepresentativeDrewMacEwen.com
434 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
drew.macewen@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7902 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000