A veteran leader
who works tirelessly
Larry has lived in Richland for
more than three decades. He is
committed to serving his neighbors.
To the Editorial Page Editor
After having read your Sept 24 article regarding the Haler-Simmons House race, I felt it important to clarify the transportation funding question raised by a couple of mayors in the Tri-City area.
As the ranking minority member on the House Transportation Committee, I was in negotiations on the Transportation tax package passed in July 2015. My involvement began in late September 2013 and continued through final passage of the package.
Contrary to the mayors’ assertions, there were no conversations about Tri-City projects being dependent upon Haler or Klippert voting for the package. The negotiating team tried to get projects in as many areas of the state as possible – based on the requests we received. Even in areas where neither the Senator nor either representative were voting for the package, projects were included. In fact, negotiators didn’t always know how legislators were voting in different districts — so projects were funded based on need and benefit (congestion relief, economic development, freight mobility, and safety).
One mayor indicated that state officials told him there was a “shift” of the funds. Not quite sure how an agency could shift money in a “proposed” package (prior to a vote by the House and Senate and signature of the Governor). Any shift by an agency would have to take place after the vote. But state agencies couldn’t shift money in the package – because we passed a project list as part of the package.
During negotiations – before there even was a House vote on the package – negotiators were told that the Tri-City projects were going to be funded locally – so money for these projects wasn’t needed in the package. The total level of funding for these projects was based on that information – not how any member was voting on the package.
I hope that clarifies the issue for everyone concerned.
Rep. Ed Orcutt
Ranking Member, House Transportation Committee