One special session probably not enough for Legislature

A Kitsap Transit lobbyist told the board Tuesday he’s not optimistic the Legislature can complete its work during the 30-day special session that began April 29.
Everything is being held up by disagreements between the House and Senate over an operating budget that must include a huge chunk of Supreme Court-mandated education funding, said Dylan Doty. Only when that is resolved can lawmakers move on to construction and transportation budgets, and a transportation revenue package.
Doty predicts a second special session will be needed, which could extend into June. The ultimate deadline is the end of the state fiscal year June 30, when the government would shut down.
Transportation chairs Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, and Curtis King, R-Yakima, have been meeting regularly about transportation revenue project lists and reforms, Doty said. They’re close on the projects. The holdup, like last year, is reforms, including keeping sales taxes from projects in the transportation budget instead of the general fund as is done now.
Kitsap Transit has much to gain from a transportation revenue package, including money for new Silverdale and East Bremerton transfer centers that is on both project lists.
Also mixed up with the package is House Bill 1221. It would, with voter approval, allow Kitsap Transit to create one or more passenger-only ferry districts funded by up to three-tenths of 1 percent of local sales tax.
The transit board on Tuesday approved a $312,000 contract to move ahead with Phase 2 of the cross-Sound passenger-only ferry business plan, which includes engaging the community about it. Until the bill’s fate is known, however, there are some questions about what to tell people. But the agency should share what it knows, said South Kitsap resident Roger Gay and a couple board members.
“Mr. Gay is right,” said Poulsbo mayor Becky Erickson. “Sooner or later we’re going to have to figure out what these districts look like. To have a viable financial plan, what people will be taxed at what level? People who will be included have a right to know so they can express support or non-support.”