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Washington State Hikes Gas Tax
In the midst of already record gas prices, Washington State will increase the price at the pump.

High gas prices
Despite record-high gas prices averaging $2.50 a gallon, Washington state lawmakers will add 9.5 cents to the existing 28-cent gas tax over four years. The tax hike begins in July with a 3 cent-per-gallon increase. Governor Christine Gregoire said she will the increase into law.

In total, Washington residents will pay an additional $8.6 billion at the pump with the money divided among projects throughout the state. Although sold as a road-improvement tax, a significant portion of the funds will go to unrelated public spending. For example, $800 million will go to public transportation and rail projects. Three-quarters of the money allocated to Pierce County -- $570 of the $750 million -- will go to HOV carpooling lanes, which a recent study found caused a significant increase in accidents. Overall spending by the Washington state government went up by twelve percent.

On Sunday, the state House voted 54-43 to approve the tax hike, and the state Senate voted 32-13.

Article Excerpt:
"That's a phenomenal amount of money," said state Sen. Jim Kastama (D-Tacoma) a member of the Senate transportation committee.
Source: Car pools win gas tax gold (News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), 4/26/2005)

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