Bailey, Smith deeply concerned about governor’s proposal for sharp ferry fare increases, reduced runs

A 2011-13 transportation budget proposed today by Gov. Chris Gregoire would increase ferry fares by 10 percent next year, followed by a 2.5 percent increase in 2012. In addition to the fare increases, the governor is proposing to add a fuel surcharge to the increased fares, eliminate the last round-trip night service on the Clinton-Mulkiteo route, and would not restore the second vessel on the Coupeville-Port Townsend route.

Following the governor’s announcement, Reps. Barbara Bailey and Norma Smith said they are deeply concerned about the impacts the governor’s proposed transportation budget could have on the 10th District, and especially Whidbey Island, whose residents are largely dependent on ferries.

“I’m very disappointed with the governor’s proposal. The governor said everyone needs to share in the sacrifices and pay more for less service, but she’s put some of the largest sacrifices on the people of Whidbey Island with this transportation budget,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “We use the ferries as a water highway system, and for the past three years, our communities and local economies have suffered immensely as we’ve waited for replacement ferries for the Coupeville-Port Townsend run. We now have one of the new boats operating, but the governor’s plan would reduce service by denying the second vessel for the route. Combined with the large fare increases and the reduction in service, this proposal could be devastating to the citizens on Whidbey Island. Before we put this burden on the people of our state, we need to look more closely for efficiencies in the operation of the ferry system and do all we can to get the most out of existing transportation dollars.”

“The governor’s proposed budget places undue responsibility for the shortfalls on ferry customers and the communities dependent on our marine highways,” said Smith, R-Clinton. “Labor cost are the bulk of the operating budget, and a solution cannot be reached without labor at the table. The drastic service reduction that resulted from the steel electrics being pulled continues to have a significant effect on our local economy. Our businesses, families and communities were promised two vessels and a return to full service, and I will continue the fight to make that happen. I will continue working with my Democrat and Republican colleagues in the House ‘Ferry Caucus’ to propose solutions that are fair, and provide a responsible and sustainable direction for the future.”

Bailey, who serves as assistant ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, also commented about the governor’s operating budget proposal, which was released with the transportation spending plan.

“I don’t understand why the governor has crafted budgets she hates rather than putting out responsible plans that reform government. To address a multi-billion budget deficit, we’re going to have to reset, reform and reshape state government. Unfortunately, her proposals do not provide a vision for the future,” noted Bailey. “We can and we must do better.”

The Legislature will convene Jan. 10 for a scheduled 105-days session.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov