Smith, Bailey sign bipartisan letter to governor requesting support for ferry system

A group of bipartisan lawmakers representing Puget Sound’s ferry communities, including 10th District Reps. Norma Smith and Barbara Bailey, delivered a letter to Gov. Gregoire on March 4 stating they are united in their goal of maintaining current service levels, constructing a long-awaited relief boat, and being stewards of the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“This letter, signed by the bipartisan ferry caucus, is a strong and clear roadmap for restoring a reliable and sustainable ferry system,” said Smith, R-Clinton. “The governor has inaccurately framed the debate away from the constitutional fact that our ferries are Washington state highways. Ferry communities have been required to absorb significant fare increases year over year, much of which has been driven by poor management and oversight. It’s time to say no to service cuts and reduced service, and to move forward on reforms, cost reductions, safe boats and dependable, affordable service. The economic vitality of our communities is at stake.”

The lawmakers contend the ferry system has not remained a priority within the state’s highway system. Funding over the past decade has declined as a proportion of state transportation spending.

“We know the status quo is negatively affecting our ferry communities and this is unacceptable. Our ferry routes must be recognized as state marine highways and their funding needs to be equitable and fair,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “We have outlined our bipartisan expectations and solutions to the governor. We are hopeful that by the end of this legislative session important steps will be taken toward ensuring a reliable, efficient and affordable state ferry system that maintains proper levels of service. If we are going to truly reform the ferry system, it’s going to take good-faith bargaining, performance accountability and operational efficiency.”

Service reductions are not an option according to the legislators representing communities with ferry service. The letter outlines three solutions: focus on efficiencies first, reduce spending to preserve service, and examine revenue options.

The letter was signed by 16 other legislators from around Puget Sound. The letter to the governor can be read here.

With the letter, the legislators also submitted a cost-reduction proposal for 2011 to offset the governor’s $20 million proposed reductions. Read that document here.

The two lawmakers encourage anyone with questions to contact their offices directly. Smith can be reached at (360) 786-7884 and Bailey at (360) 786-7914.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov