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Saturday, October 15th, 2005: Page updated at 8:00 PM

Election 2005

Your guide to the gas-tax initiative

Last spring the state Legislature approved a 9.5-cent-a-gallon gas-tax increase, to be phased in over four years, to fund 274 state road projects. Initiative 912, on the ballot in November, would repeal the increase. A guide to understanding the gas tax and Initiative 912.

The purpose | The projects | The cost | The alternatives

The purpose: It would repeal the Legislature's 9.5-cent gas-tax increase

The 31-cent-a-gallon state gas tax is Washington’s primary source of money to build and maintain our roads. Last spring, the Legislature passed a 9.5-cent-a-gallon tax increase as part of an $8.5 billion transportation plan. The tax is being phased in over four years, starting with 3 cents a gallon added in July.

About $7 billion would fund state highway projects. The rest would go to cities and counties for their road work.

Unlike the 5-cent tax increase approved in 2003 - which goes away as projects funded by the tax are paid off - the new tax is permanent unless repealed.

Initiative 912 would do just that. It would leave in place a diesel-fuel tax and additional weight and licensing fees the Legislature also passed last spring. The state estimates I-912 would eliminate about 60 percent of the new transportation funding, leaving about $3.2 billion over 16 years.

The arguments for voting yes

Supporters say projects funded by the new tax wouldn’t relieve traffic congestion, and many wouldn’t even be finished without another tax increase later. And there is no guarantee the state would use the money on the projects it has identified. The tax is another example of the state spending billions without benefiting regular drivers, initiative supporters say.

The arguments for voting no

Opponents say many of the state’s busiest roads are in desperate need of repair and expansion, including Interstate 405 and the damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct. Nearly $3 billion would go to ease choke points and congestion, and even more would fund safety improvements. I-912 would delay needed highway work for years, initiative foes say.