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Apr. 25--OLYMPIA -- In a stunning turnaround, lawmakers ended the session yesterday by passing an $8.5 billion transportation package that includes a 9.5-cent gas tax over four years -- the biggest increase in state history.
The legislation, which went through the Senate last week, passed the House 54 to 43, with 11 Republicans siding with the Democratic majority. Gov. Christine Gregoire said she'll sign the measure.
The package raises the gas tax by 3 cents a gallon the first year, 3 cents the second year, 2 cents the third year and 1.5 cents in the fourth. It includes $2 billion for the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, $972 million for Interstate 405 on the Eastside, and $500 million toward replacing the Highway 520 bridge over Lake Washington.
"This is absolutely historic," said Duke Schaub, lobbyist for Associated General Contractors of Washington and one of the most powerful figures in Olympia. "This means thousands and thousands of new jobs."
The Legislature, which adjourned at 7:17 last evening, also passed a $26 billion operating budget that includes about $400 million in taxes, as well as a $3 billion state construction budget yesterday. But those votes were …